UK welfare policy: impact on disabled people

Analysis of the impact of Personal Independence Payments and changes to employment and support allowance.

4. Indirect impact of Personal Independence Payments

Section 3 focused on the available evidence of the direct impact of PIP in terms the financial losses experienced by people who are re-assessed from DLA. This section focuses on evidence of the non-financial or indirect impacts of PIP – including the assessment process and impacts on those entitled to a mobility vehicle.

4.1 Assessments

It is generally recognised that assessments for PIP have led to some claimants having negative experiences of the process. This is evidenced in a number of studies, including Paul Gray's Second Independent Review of PIP [25] commissioned by DWP. The Gray's review states that 'Common concerns were that the process from application through to the decision of entitlement was very stressful, too long and that the Health Professionals conducting the assessment were not adequately trained to understand their condition'.

In 2015, PIP overtook ESA as the most common problem reported by clients at Citizens Advice across the UK. In April 2015, 11,500 people sought guidance from the bureaus (to put this number in context, 52,000 new claimants and reassessments were processed by the DWP in the same month). [26] The three most common problems with PIP, presented by Citizens Advice clients in 2014/15 were: confusion over eligibility (over 100,000 cases), making and managing claim issues, including problems with delays (over 50,000 cases); and challenges and appeals (over 20,000 cases).

In a briefing paper on the UN Inquiry into the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the UK, from the House of Commons Library, [27] it is asserted that 'regular re-assessment could cause anxiety and affect physical or mental health of vulnerable claimants.'

The Disability Benefits Consortium ( DBC) launched its annual Big Benefits Survey in February 2017. [28] 2,614 respondents to the survey had applied for PIP or DLA. Of these, 1,730 claimants had either applied directly for PIP as a new claimant or were reassessed DLA claimants and had therefore been assessed for PIP. 84% of claimants had applied for PIP relatively recently – in either 2015, 2016 or 2017. In relation to assessments, the responses to the survey showed that:

  • In many cases people were unaware that they are able to request a home assessment: 79% of respondents were not told about the opportunity to request a home visit.
  • Two-thirds of survey respondents disagreed when asked if assessors understood their condition. 58% disagreed that their assessor "took into account whether I could do activities reliably, repeatedly, safely and in a timely manner" and almost half disagreed that the assessor "took into account extra evidence about my condition that I sent in advance".
  • Almost 90% of respondents described their assessment as 'stressful' and over three-quarters of respondents agreed that the stress and anxiety associated with their PIP assessment made their condition worse.

Case Study A

A West of Scotland CAB reports of a client who has Cerebral Palsy and previously received high rate mobility for DLA. After PIP assessment she was awarded standard rate mobility. The initial decision was not changed following Mandatory Reconsideration. Following an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal, the client was awarded Enhanced rate Mobility.

Source - CAS

4.2 Motability

The Motability scheme allows those who are on the highest rate of PIP or DLA to lease a suitable car, scooter or powered wheelchair in return for their weekly award. One key change in the Mobility component of PIP, compared with DLA, is the use of the distance benchmark for assessing claimants' ability to move around unaided.

Under DLA, if a claimant is unable to move 50m or more unaided, they qualify for the highest rate under the benefit's mobility component and gain access to the Motability scheme. This benchmark is reduced to 20m for PIP. The DWP [29] projected in 2012 that 42% of claimants would lose their eligibility for Motability as a result of lower award at re-assessment. Using the latest data on re-assessment outcomes to better inform the estimate of the number of working-age people who could lose Motability, a comparable figure would be around 31%. [30]

The latest statistics published by Motability [31] show that up to September 2017, around 111,500 people in total have joined the Motability Scheme using Personal Independence Payment ( PIP) rather than Disability Living Allowance ( DLA). Of those re-assessed from PIP to DLA, around 83,500 have been awarded the same level of mobility support under PIP and have remained on the scheme. Around 67,000 people have lost their eligibility to remain on the scheme due to their PIP reassessment. However, around 4,500 have since re-joined Motability following a successful reconsideration or appeal.

Analysis of written responses to the consultation on social security in Scotland shows that this loss of entitlement to Motability has a clear negative impact on affected claimants' independence, risking social isolation and worsening health. [32] In April 2017, the Government announced that those who lose their entitlement to Motability and, as a result of an unsuccessful re-assessment from DLA to PIP, and appeal the decision, would be able to keep their Motability vehicle for eight weeks from the end of their DLA award.

In their responses to the Disability Benefits Consortium ( DBC) survey 178 people revealed the impact of losing access to the Motability scheme. Of these, 40% explained that they could no longer get around independently, 44% were forced to buy their own car and 31% had to pay for taxis, which reduced their independence.

Case Study B

A disabled parent with children lost their mobility car during the transition from DLA to PIP. They are now wondering how they are going to get their disabled child to hospital/specialist appointments.

Source – CPAG

Case Study C

A disabled man with a progressive eye condition (and registered blind) was migrated from DLA to PIP. He was awarded the standard rate for the mobility component which meant that he was set to lose the family car which enables his wife to take him out and also to take their children to school. There had also been a delay in receiving the award letter, meaning that the car he and his family used was due to be returned within a few days, leaving no time to challenge the decision in the usual way. The person relied on advice and advocacy services in contacting DWP through the escalation route. The decision was reviewed and he was awarded the enhanced rate for the mobility component which would allow him to keep the car.

Source - RNIB Scotland, via Disability Agenda Scotland ( DAS)


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