The DWP announced yesterday that changes to the rules for claiming personal independence payment (PIP) are expected to leave 640,000 disabled people with no award or a smaller award by 2020/21. The new rules will be introduced in January 2017.
The DWP launched a consultation in January 2015 to look at changing the rules relating to the way that aids and appliances are taken into account when assessing a claimant for PIP.
The official view was that many people who qualified for an award of the daily living component based on the use of aids and appliances alone did not have much in the way of additional costs because of their disability and therefore should not receive an award.
The response to the consultation was overwhelmingly opposed to any changes. Of 281 written responses received, just 11 thought that any alterations should be made to the PIP criteria.
As is now traditional with DWP consultations, these views were entirely discounted when a decision was made. Instead, the DWP did what it had been intending to do from the outset.
Research by the DWP found that the majority of people who score all their daily living points for aids and appliances receive points for activities one, four, five and six: preparing food, washing and bathing, managing toilet needs or incontinence, dressing and undressing.
In a statement released to accompany their decision, the DWP claim that:
“Currently a claimant could receive £55 a week by using an aid or appliance in as little as 4 activities, for example:
“preparing food: lightweight kitchen equipment typically found in a home anyway or low cost one-off purchases (2 points)
“washing and bathing: long-handled sponge with low or minimal costs (2 points)
“managing toilet needs or incontinence: raised toilet seat provided by the NHS (2 points)
“dressing and undressing: chair for sitting on typically found in a home anyway (2 points)”
In order to slash the number of claims based on using aids and appliances, a change to the scores is therefore being introduced.
From January 2017 the number of points that can be scored for using aids and appliances for activities five and six – managing toilet needs and incontinence, dressing and undressing – will be halved from two to one for each activity.
The result will be that a claimant who currently scores 8 points for the four activities listed above, based on using aids and appliances, will only score 6 points. This will not be enough to get an award of the daily living component.
The changes will also mean that some claimants who would qualify for the enhanced rate of the daily living component will only qualify for the standard rate instead.
The DWP say that the new rules
“. . . will apply to new claims, claimants who report a change of circumstances and DLA claimants who are reassessed for PIP from 1 January 2017. The change will affect existing PIP claimants who do not report a change of circumstances from the later of 1 January 2017 or the date the Department reviews their current award.”
The future looks bleak
For many thousands of current PIP claimants, this means that their current award of the daily living component is the only one they are ever likely to qualify for.
For many thousands more current DLA claimants, it means their chances of getting an award of PIP when they are forced off DLA have now been drastically reduced.
These cuts in PIP eligibility, combined with cuts of £30 a week for new claimants in the work-related activity group of employment and support allowance, due to be introduced in April 2017, mean that the future is looking increasingly bleak for sick and disabled claimants.