The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) has concluded that for many people, how Personal Independence Payment (PIP) works is “not fit for purpose”. The DBC has based its conclusion on a survey of 1,730 people who have claimed PIP.
The DBC is made up of a group of over 80 charities, including Epilepsy Action, that represent people who rely on disability benefits.
The survey carried out by the DBC aimed to look at how well PIP is working for disabled people and people with long-term conditions. PIP is a benefit designed to help disabled people and those with long-term conditions manage the extra costs associated with their condition. PIP was introduced in 2013 by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to gradually replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
PIP assessment failings
The DBC report stated that “for many people, PIP simply isn’t working”. The survey results revealed that more than two-thirds of people who responded found the application hard to complete. Over half said they found providing supporting evidence hard.
Almost two-thirds of people said they didn’t think the assessors understood their condition and nine out of 10 people described the assessment as stressful. In epilepsy, stress is recognised as a possible seizure trigger for some people.
The DBC said in its report that the PIP assessment criteria often fail to account for fluctuations in people’s conditions. The organisation added that government has been proposing restrictions to PIP criteria since 2013, but without clear evidence.
The survey results in the report also show that over half of people didn’t think they were awarded the right level of financial support. Nearly two-thirds of people who had seen the assessor’s report felt that it badly reflected the answers they had given in the assessment.
According to DWP data, so far almost half of people reassessed from DLA to PIP have either lost their award or had it reduced. The DBC added that PIP appeals between 2016 and 2017 made up almost half of the Social Security and Child Support (SSCS) total tribunal receipts. The report also shows that between 2013-14, about a quarter of PIP appeals were successful, while between 2016-17, about two thirds were successful.
The DBC report concludes that PIP is not fit for purpose and puts forward a number of recommendations. These include simpler and more easily accessible claim forms and more support in gathering useful evidence to support a person’s claim.
The DBC also recommends an urgent and thorough review of the PIP criteria. The organisation says that input from disabled people and people with long-term conditions would help make it fairer and better reflect the extra costs people face. The recommendations also urge for the DWP to ease the criteria on mobility, offer more transparency and introduce indefinite awards for severe and complex conditions.
Anastasia Berry, senior policy and campaigns officer at Epilepsy Action, said: “This report makes it clear that the current system is failing to properly support people with epilepsy. We are hearing increasingly concerning stories from people who say it’s not just their safety and day-to-day living that are being negatively impacted by the PIP process but also their physical and mental health.
“Some people feel they have no choice but to abandon their application to protect damaging their health even further. Some have even told us the assessment process has made them feel suicidal. The current system needs to change. If it doesn’t, it will continue to have devastating effects on those people with epilepsy who need it most.”