The government spends around £50 billion a year to support people with disabilities and health conditions.
Part of that support comes through Personal Independence Payment (PIP). This was introduced to replace the outdated Disability Living Allowance and helps with the extra costs that can often come with being disabled, such as added transport costs or assistance with cooking.
The PIP assessment is designed to focus more support on those who are likely to have a higher level of need, and higher costs associated with their disability. For example, claimants who require therapy at home, like dialysis or oxygen, are likely to need more support than someone who needs help to take medication. Similarly, people who cannot carry out a journey because of a visual or cognitive impairment are likely to need more support than someone who experiences psychological distress when they undertake a journey, for example as a result of social phobia or anxiety.
Recent legal judgments have interpreted the assessment criteria for PIP in ways that are different to what was originally intended. The government is now making amendments to clarify the criteria, to restore the original aim of the policy and ensure support goes to those most in need.
This is not a policy change and will not result in any claimants seeing a reduction in the amount of PIP previously awarded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The purpose is to restore the original intention of the benefit which has been expanded by the legal judgments.
Spending on disability benefits has risen by more than £3 billion in real terms since 2010, and will remain higher in each year to 2020, than in 2010. Failing to reinstate the original intention of the policy would have led to substantial unplanned increases to public expenditure totalling £3.7 billion (between 2016 to 2017 and 2021 to 2022).
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