COWDENBEATH MSP Annabelle Ewing has highlighted figures obtained under freedom of information laws which show that 1,140 assessments for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) have been successfully challenged by people in Fife since April 2013 with many from this area.

There were a total of 1840 appeals during this period – meaning that the success rate for appeals was 62 per cent.

PIP is being rolled-out across the UK to replace Living Allowance (DLA) as the main benefit for disabled or ill people. To receive this benefit, claimants have to endure controversial assessments, conducted by private companies on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Ms Ewing said: “Disabled people rely on these financial lifelines to live independently and be part of their community and for the DWP to get these cases so consistently wrong suggests a systematic hostility towards people in need.

“We have all read of shocking cases where individuals have – clearly wrongly – been refused the support to which they had previously been entitled but these astonishing figures make it very evident that the approach of the UK Government is all about dismantling the social security system and taking away the safety net it supposed to offer.

“In any system there will be mistakes. The existence of an appeals system recognises that. But when nearly two thirds of all Appeals are upheld then it points to significant problems with the manner in which the original decisions are being made".

The MSP added: “The Government’s punitive approach to the system simply isn’t working. It is failing vulnerable people, withdrawing support from those who need it most, and leaving people out of pocket and unable to afford the basic essentials.

“The UK Government’s disastrous record on welfare shows why Scotland should have the power to take our own approach – rather than leaving these powers at Westminster.

“In the meantime, it is vital that these fundamental flaws in the current assessment appeals process are urgently addressed.”