Government launches PIP consultation

The Government has proposals for ways to change PIP to save money. This is yet another ideological attack on our rights.

The Government has launched a consultation on how to change Personal Independence Payments (PIP). The consultation is premised on the idea that too many people are entitled for PIP and the system could become “unaffordable”. It looks at different ways to restrict access to PIP.

The changes would not happen until after the General Election and would require a law to be passed in Parliament under the next Government.

The proposals include:

  • Changing the assessment criteria, merging, deleting, giving fewer points for activities and descriptors.
  • Changing qualifying periods.
  • Moving to assessments based on medical diagnosis or actual extra costs.
  • Replacing PIP cash payments with vouchers, access to therapies or other local support.

This is another brutal ideological attack on our rights, at a time when the UK’s welfare policies were yet again found by the UN to be leading to grave and systematic violations of Disabled people’s rights.

PIP replaced DLA (Disability Living Allowance) for adults 10 years ago. PIP and DLA were designed as benefits to help with the extra costs of being Disabled. Since PIP was implemented, there is no evidence that life has got better for Disabled people – on the contrary, NHS waiting lists are longer, we face discrimination at work, in education, and in wider society.

Scope estimates that households with at least one Disabled person face average extra costs of £975 per month (Disability Price Tag report). PIP is an essential benefit that covers part of this – but even if someone gets the enhanced rate for both aspects of PIP, that only comes to £737 per month. And if they get social care, they already don’t get to spend their PIP, as it is taken away to pay for social care charging.

Our key concerns about the proposals:

  • Restricting access to PIP will worsen people’s health.
  • Linking other benefits to PIP (such as out-of-work benefits) means that if someone loses PIP, they may lose access to other support too.

Offering access to treatment or funding individual costs instead of PIP covers up the fact that:

  • We should have access to that treatment anyway, alongside needing PIP.
  • People who get social care already don’t get to spend their PIP, as social care charges take money from PIP and other benefits.
  • Many people with the highest support needs find it difficult to identify and prove all their extra costs (as shown through our work on social care charges), so they would lose out again.

We are also dismayed at the way the government singles out people with experience of mental distress or trauma.  This is blatant discrimination, and we refute this.

Inclusion London will be running a meeting for London DDPOs and activists to discuss our joint response to these proposals. Please register here.