About personal independence payment (PIP)
Timetable and impact
Six hundred thousand disabled people will lose out on benefit payments to help with daily living and mobility by 2018 under finalised government plans to scrap disability living allowance (DLA) for working-age adults.
Ministers announced concessions yesterday on the introduction of personal independence payment (PIP) – which will replace DLA for new working-age from April 2013 – including a much slower timetable for reassessing existing claimants and changes to assessment criteria. However, campaigners warned that the reform was still a “step backwards for disability rights” that would see disabled people go without the support that they need and increase pressures on social care and the NHS.
‘Listened to disabled people’
In a statement yesterday, disability minister Esther McVey said the government had “listened to and acted on the huge amount of consultation we have had with disabled people and disability groups”.
Key changes include making the assessment criteria for PIP more generous, including by broadening the range of aids and appliances that would be taken into account to include those not designed specifically for disabled people. This means that people reliant on such aids to perform tasks such as preparing food would score two points in the assessment rather than none; eight points is the eligibility threshold for a daily living or mobility payment.
In addition, the government has slowed the pace of reform. The full reassessment of existing DLA claimants will now start in October 2015, not January 2014 as previously planned. This means that, as of October 2015, 300,000 working-age disabled people would have lost out on the benefit, down from 500,000 on the government’s initial timetable.
Disability Rights UK director of policy Neil Coyle said it would be “churlish” not to welcome the slowing of the timetable – something campaigners had called for, but he said the reform was still a “step backwards for disability rights”.
With reference to the estimated 230,000 people with learning disabilities due to undergo the assessment, he pointed out that people who needed prompting to cook, take medication and go to the toilet, and who also needed support with communication would, without additional needs, be ineligible for daily living payments under PIP.
Negative experience of work capability assessment
He said that Disability Rights UK were “quite worried about how people would be measured” given disabled people’s negative experience of the work capability assessment (WCA), which determines eligibility for employment and support allowance. Atos Healthcare, which is contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions to deliver the WCA, is one of the contractors who will deliver the PIP assessment.
Coyle also warned that the reforms would increase pressures on social care and the NHS from people who lost access to benefits.
The government will hold independent reviews into the implementation of PIP in 2014 and 2015. Coyle said he hoped that problems identified by such reviews would be acted on more quickly than has been the case with those identified in similar reviews into the work capability assessment.