PIP failures mean independent living is at risk
Personal Independence Payments (PIP) have overtaken Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) as the most common problem people go to Citizens Advice to get help with. Evidence from the charity shows that almost one in four people are experiencing problems since the introduction of the benefit.
The charity has reported that the issues people are experiencing are similar to those faced by ESA claimants when it was introduced as a replacement for Incapacity Benefit. Almost a quarter of all PIP applications and reassessment claimants are experiencing serious difficulties such as delays, unfair dismissal of claims and confusion over eligibility.
PIP began replacing the old Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in 2013 as part of the government’s welfare shake-up to slash the benefits bill. The criteria for the payments became more rigorous and claimants are now subject to constant reassessment. Since last month, almost everyone on DLA – apart from those on the most extreme long-term cases have had to reapply for PIP.
Figures from the charity show that 11,500 people sought guidance from Citizen’s Advice about PIP compared with 52,000 new claimants and reassessments the Department for Work and Pensions recorded in the same month.
Just like ESA, people are confused about whether they qualify for PIP and are experiencing distress and financial troubles as decisions about their applications are delayed. Challenges over judgements and appeals are also increasing as many complain about inaccuracies in their medical assessment.
Figures from DWP published in June 2015 showed that delays for PIP had fallen to an average of 11 weeks for new claimants. However, Citizens Advice has evidence that some people are waiting more than a year and that decisions have resulted in many people falling into debt and some relying on support from relatives and friends.
Since PIP was introduced as a replacement for DLA in 2013, Citizen’s Advice has helped people with over 300,000 issues relating to the new benefit.
Shadow Disability Minister Kate Green said: “These figures make worrying reading. PIP can be a lifeline, helping disabled people and those living with serious illness such as cancer or Parkinson’s disease to meet the extra costs disabled people face. Yet the government is recklessly pressing ahead to roll out the new benefit to all existing Disability Living Allowance recipients rather than sorting out the problems that this research shows. It’s a recipe for chaos which will leave many disabled people facing hardship and distress.”
Citizens Advice is calling on the government to learn from the mistakes it made when ESA was introduced. Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “People’s ability to live independently is at risk due to PIP failures. People are experiencing problems with every part of the PIP process, causing a huge amount of stress and anxiety for those going through a very difficult time.”
“PIP is designed to help people who are disabled or living with serious health conditions with extra costs they face such as getting help with day to day tasks, but for too many people the system is not working. In order to fulfil its intention the government needs to ensure the PIP is implemented properly and responds to people’s changing needs.”
Are you Ill, injured or disabled?
If you are ill, injured or disabled, the ‘Ill, injured or have a disability’ section of the Turn2us website has information about ways you might be able to get help. This includes information on Personal Independence Payment and Employment and Support Allowance.
The Turn2us Your Situation online section contains resources such as managing money, including useful links and a Find an Adviser tool to help you find national and local sources of further help.
Source: Citizen’s Advice – PIP failures risking people’s ability to live independently, says Citizens Advice