The government is changing the assessment criteria for the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) to ensure the system is fairer with money targeted at those who need it most.
As part of wider reforms to welfare, PIP was introduced to replace the outdated Disability Living Allowance.
The changes follow an independent review to ensure the benefit was meeting its initial purpose – to help people with the extra cost of disability.
Paul Gray’s independent review found that the assessment criteria may not be working as planned. A subsequent review of cases by DWP health professionals identified that a significant number of people are likely to be getting the benefit despite having minimal to no ongoing daily living extra costs.
In addition, DWP data to December 2015 shows that 1 in 3 claimants receiving the daily living component of PIP do so solely as a result of needing aids or appliances. This figure has tripled in just 18 months. (Figures exclude those dealt with under special rules for a terminal illness).
DWP health professionals reviewed a number of these cases and in 96% of them the likely ongoing extra costs of daily living were nil, low or minimal. Many of the aids and appliances for which points are being awarded are likely to be already found in people’s homes, provided free by the NHS and local authorities, or can be bought for a low one-off cost.
The changes announced today will reduce the weight given to the use of aids and appliances in 2 of the 10 daily living activities – dressing and managing toilet needs – from January 2017 but aids and appliances will continue to be recognised through the assessment process. The department’s view is that using an aid or appliance for these two activities less reliably identifies extra costs associated with having a disability.
The Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, said:
The introduction of Personal Independence Payment to replace the outdated Disability Living Allowance for working age claimants has been a hugely positive reform.
But it is clear that the assessment criteria for aids and appliances are not working as planned. Many people are eligible for a weekly award despite having minimal to no extra costs and judicial decisions have expanded the criteria for aids and appliances to include items we would expect people to have in their homes already.
We consulted widely to find the best approach. And this new change will ensure that PIP is fairer and targets support at those who need it most.
Currently a claimant could receive £55 a week by using an aid or appliance in as little as 4 activities, for example:
- preparing food: lightweight kitchen equipment typically found in a home anyway or low cost one-off purchases (2 points)
- washing and bathing: long-handled sponge with low or minimal costs (2 points)
- managing toilet needs or incontinence: raised toilet seat provided by the NHS (2 points)
- dressing and undressing: chair for sitting on typically found in a home anyway (2 points)
The changes to the assessment scores for aids and appliances within PIP follow a 7 week constructive public consultation which generated around 300 responses.
The government continues to spend £50 billion a year on benefits to help people with disabilities or health conditions, and additional support is available to people who need it most.
PIP is also continually monitored for effectiveness to ensure it is delivering its original policy intent and that improvements are implemented where they are identified. A second independent review of PIP is due to be delivered by April 2017.
Over the course of the last 6 months there have been 3 legal judgments that have ruled a bed or chair can be classed as an aid or appliance if it helps someone get dressed or undressed.
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