NEARLY three quarters of people who appealed against attempts to deny them disability benefits in East Lancashire's processing area were successful last year.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that 7,506 people in the area launched successful appeals over the last year, while the government won just 2589 cases.

According to Michelle Cardno, director of advisory service Fightback4Justice, this shows that attempts to deny them payments were unjust to begin with and is indicative of a flawed system which seeks to penalise rather than help those in need.

She said: "The whole system is broken in my opinion, we have a team of 11 working hard to help people overturn these decisions and have a very high success rate of doing so, we just cannot keep up and our resources are stretched as we are unfunded by grants currently.

"Even social services send people to us now as they cannot help!"

She added: "One gentleman who came to the drop in, has terminal cancer, and he was refused PIP on renewal and his mobility car was removed, because his chemotherapy has stopped.

"Another was an ex-serviceman in a wheelchair who had never claimed in his life, despite disabilities warranting it.

"When he finally did he was refused as he has an adapted car and can drive."

Figures gathered by the BBC Shared Data Unit show that East Lancashire's area results are in line with the rest of the country.

In England, Scotland and Wales, 287,116 people won an appeal over their benefits at tribunal between 2018 and 2021, the majority of them claiming Personal Independence Payment.

The figures also showed that 39 people in East Lancashire's processing area had died while waiting for a ruling, out of more than 1000 across the UK.

Critics say also that the appeal process itself process is confusing, stressful and does not give claimants enough time to gather evidence to support their case.

Ms Cardno said: "The whole system is designed to stack against the disabled claimant and put them off appealing."

However the government insists that the service is improving.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: "We support millions of people a year and our priority is they get the support they are entitled to as quickly as possible.

"The vast majority of PIP cases are not appealed and we continue to improve the service offered to customers, including through recent changes to our decision-making process.

"The PIP assessment process is carried out by experienced health professionals and considers how people are affected by their disability, rather than just the disability itself, and more than double the proportion of PIP claimants get the top rates of support compared to those who receive Disability Living Allowance."