Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A busy week for Personal Independence Payment

It’s been an eventful week in the disability sector with news surrounding Personal Independence Payment (PIP). PIP is the new benefit that is due to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

First of all we had the government response to a consultation on the moving around activity of Personal Independence Payment assessment. Earlier this year, the government changed a qualifying distance in one of the assessment areas for PIP to 20 metres from its original proposal of 50 metres at the last minute.  People who can walk up to 20 metres, but struggle after that point, are likely to score fewer points in their assessment. This potentially affects their entitlement and the support they receive to meet their needs.

This change was made without the government even indicating it would do so during the consultation process. In the context of such strong feeling on this matter and a legal challenge pending, the government consulted on the matter (you can read Aspire’s paper here).

The government’s response to the consultation has now been published. Aspire is disappointed that after receiving over 1,000 responses and only five being in favour, that 20 metres will remain as a qualifying distance in the assessment.

The second piece of big news on PIP was that there would be a delay in reassessing people on DLA for the new benefit. The process was due to start on 28th October but the government has now decided to take a more phased approach, starting with people living in Wales, West Midlands, East Midlands and parts of East Anglia.

On the slower roll out of reassessments, if the system is struggling to cope then a slower roll out is better than rushing full steam ahead. However, this is something that should have been thought of before. Changing the approach at the last minute and just creates more uncertainty and confusion.

The government expects all DLA claimants to have been invited on to Personal Independence Payments by September 2017. With 3.3 million people receiving DLA, this requires on average 825,000 assessments a year, or 16,000 assessments a week, or 3,200 assessments a day. This doesn’t even include new people entering the system!
With so many people affected, it’s no surprise that the government has had to rethink their approach.

As people are going through the process for the new benefit, we are already receiving feedback from people and having to make representations on their behalf to the Department for Work and Pensions and the assessment providers.
The government needs to improve its planning and give further assurances that it is in control of the roll out of the new Personal Independence Payment benefit. The last minute changes and impromptu consultations that we have experienced recently do not inspire confidence.

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