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More than 17,000 sick and disabled people have died while waiting for welfare benefits, figures show

More than 17,000 people have died while waiting to hear whether their claim for disability benefit had been successful, it has emerged.

Ministers have been accused of “failing people at the most vulnerable point in their lives” after figures revealed 17,070 disability claimants have died while waiting for decisions on their personal independence payment (PIP) claims since 2013.

One in four (4,330) of those who died were suffering from a form of cancer, while 270 had anxiety or depressive disorders. In more than half of cases (9,020), the main disability was not recorded.

Waiting times for PIP claims have risen over the last year, with the latest figurespublished by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) showing that the average waiting time for new claims is 14 weeks – a rise of a month since March 2018.

Shadow disabilities Marsha de Cordova accused the government of allowing a “cruel and callous” PIP assessment process to create a “hostile environment for disabled people”.  

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