Epilepsy Action is pleased that the government have announced changes today to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment guidance. These changes could significantly improve the process for people with epilepsy. From today, assessors will be given more help to understand how the condition affects people daily.
Epilepsy Action believes the assessment process is unable to capture and reflect what it is like to live with epilepsy. We know that 60% of people with epilepsy who were previously in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) had their award decreased or disallowed following a reassessment for PIP. This is 20% higher than for any other condition. Today’s announcement is a positive step forward in recognising that the system needs to improve for people with the condition.
This is a significant victory for our members who have been campaigning heavily on this issue to make sure the assessment process is fairer. Hundreds of people contacted their MPs urging them to take Epilepsy Action’s Epilepsy PIP Pledge. MPs who have taken the Pledge have promised to fight for a fairer assessment for people with the condition. Some MPs have written to the Minister on this issue.
The statement from Penny Mordaunt, the Minister for Disabled People, says that the changes will “increase entitlement for a number of both new and existing claimants, largely those with conditions such as epilepsy. The Department estimates approximately 10,000 new claims will benefit by £70 - £90 per week in 2022/2023” Today’s statement goes on to say that the Department will look back at all existing cases and identify anyone who may be entitled to more support.
Philip Lee, Chief Executive of Epilepsy Action said “We are delighted to see the government is starting to recognise the complex needs of people with epilepsy. Many people with the condition could have a seizure at any time, often without warning. The daily risk to people’s safety needs to be taken into account. We know the current system is not working and is failing people with epilepsy. They are more likely to be refused PIP than those with any other health condition.”
“Epilepsy Action is fighting for the PIP system to change. Today’s announcement represents an important step in making sure that people with epilepsy get the support they need to live a safer and more independent life.”
We are encouraged by the changes, but we remain concerned that they do not go far enough. Epilepsy Action is worried following the government’s decision to continue with other changes that could impact on people who need rescue medication to stop their seizures. We also know that more needs to be done to make sure assessors fully understand complex conditions such as epilepsy.
Epilepsy Action will be closely following how these changes will work in practice. We urge the government to continue to look at ways to improve the support available to people with hidden and/or fluctuating conditions. We recommend the government undertake a full review of the entire assessment to make sure that people with epilepsy get the support they need.