I feel it is important to set out from the start that it is wrong to assume I and my colleagues are not sympathetic to people with disabilities. Of course I recognise the significant anxiety any proposed changes will place upon the many people who are reliant on PIP and on their families. Unfortunately, the numerous messages I receive assuming I have a malicious intent are not appreciated and do not shape my views.
As you are probably aware Personal Independence Payments (PIP) were introduced during the last parliament to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA). PIP assessments looks at people as individuals, rather than just focusing on physical disabilities.
The DLA rate is between £21.80 and £139.75 a week, depending on the level of help needed. The PIP rate is also between £21.80 and £139.75 a week, depending on how an individual is affected by their condition and was designed to take into account the needs some claimants have for particular aids and appliances to help with everyday activities.
Because of this, two elements make up PIP. There is a daily living component and a mobility component. The first assesses how the claimant’s condition affects daily life such as cooking, dressing or washing. The latter examines a person’s mobility and ability to plan a journey without help.
The basis for the Chancellor’s announcement was an independent review by Paul Gray. This looked at how we can improve the effectiveness of the assessments and also improve the claimant experience. The conclusions of this report can be read by clicking here.
This review asked that the “Department should review how aids and appliances are taken into account in PIP assessments against original intent”.
As well as this the report says the following: In 96% of cases, reviewed by health professionals, they found the likely on-going additional cost of daily living due to disability was low or even zero. In some instances an aid or appliance was all that was needed to assist a claimant which had a one off cost that did not require a daily living allowance. Some of the appliances provided from this budget are also provided by the NHS or local authorities and it is not helpful to duplicate the equipment already offered by alternative providers.
I hope this background is helpful to explain where this announcement came from. However, The Government has undergone a listening exercise since the consultation was announced and the PIP changes will not be going ahead. This has been confirmed by Stephen Crabb the Work and Pensions Secretary.
Your views are of course very important in this process and I am very happy to feed in the considered views of constituents.