The UK government announced changes to its Personal Independence Payment (PIP) guidance for assessors on 2 November. This change could help more people with epilepsy get access to this benefit.
The government’s changes to the guidance will help assessors better understand how epilepsy affects people’s daily lives.
This move follows criticisms of the current system, calling the PIP assessment process ‘not fit for purpose’. Epilepsy Action has also been campaigning for improvements and urging MPs to fight for a fairer system.
Penny Mordaunt is the minister of state for disabled people, health and work. She said in a statement that the changes reflect the ruling of an Upper Tribunal from March this year.
The tribunal ruled that the law around PIP assessments is not being properly understood. The government changed the assessor guidelines to help tackle this problem.
Ms Mordaunt added: “This will increase entitlement for a number of both new and existing claimants, largely those with conditions such as epilepsy, which affect consciousness.
“The department estimates approximately 10,000 claims will benefit by £70-£90 [a] week in 2022/2023.”
The government has said it will go through existing PIP claims to find people who may be entitled to more.
An important step
PIP is designed to help disabled people with the extra costs of their condition. The government introduced this to replace the Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
Last month, DWP data showed that 3 in 5 people with epilepsy who received DLA had their PIP award refused or reduced. The rate of reduced or refused award was higher for epilepsy than for any other condition.
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. The 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.”
Epilepsy Action said it is pleased with the changes, but is concerned that they don’t go far enough. The charity said there are still a lot of questions to be answered about how these changes are going to work in reality. There is still more to be done to improve the PIP system to make sure people who need this extra support receive it.
Epilepsy Action is urging the government to undertake a full review of the entire assessment process.