Changes To Controversial PIP Assessments Set To Increase Benefits For 10,000 Disabled People
06 Nov 2017
Thousands of disabled people will receive hundreds of pounds more in benefits each month after the Government was forced to backtrack on controversial reforms.
Following a high-level legal ruling in March, ministers have rewritten rules judging Personal Independence Payments (PIP) claimants’ ability to carry out unsupervised daily tasks safely.
The Department for Work and Pensions will be going through all existing cases to identify anyone entitled to a higher rate of PIP as a result of the decision, with payments set to be backdated to March.
The changes mean around 10,000 people will see their benefits boosted by between £70 and £90 each week by 2023.
In particular, people with conditions which affect consciousness – such as epilepsy – are expected to benefit from the move.
Activists and charities had previously argued that PIP assessments were unfairly biased against epilepsy sufferers, as while for many attacks are generally “unlikely” – meaning they are able to carry out day-to-day tasks alone – when they do occur, they are often very serious.
The MS Society has also welcomed the move after revealing earlier in the year that at least £6 million was taken from people living with the condtion between 2013 and 2016 after PIP was introduced.
“We know many people with MS aren’t given the opportunity in their PIP assessments to properly explain what it’s like to live with the condition,” said policy manager Laura Wetherly.
“We hope this change means the unpredictable nature of MS will be better captured by assessors, so people can get the right outcome the first time.”
However, the organisation said current PIP rules are still “riddled with problems”.
“Realistically, the whole system needs to be reviewed,” Wetherly added. “Living with MS is hard enough; it shouldn’t be made harder by a welfare system that doesn’t make sense.”
But announcing the change today, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Penny Mourdaunt called PIP a “modern, dynamic benefit” compared to the “outdated” DLA system.
“PIP is a fairer benefit, which takes a much wider look at the way an individual’s health condition or disability impacts them on a daily basis,” she said.
“Under PIP, 29% of claimants are receiving the highest possible support, compared with just 15% under DLA.”
According to the government, the updated rules will also benefit people who face challenges communicating or experience sensory difficulties.