Social Security Experience Panels: disability benefit names

Social Security Experience Panels members' views on renaming disability benefits when they are transferred from the UK Department for Work and Pensions to Social Security Scotland.

This document is part of a collection

Personal Independence Payment

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is currently delivered by the DWP. It is designed to cover the costs of everyday life for people who have a long term illness, disability or mental health condition. It is paid to people aged between 16 and state pension age.

Personal Independence Payment – Likes

We asked respondents what they liked about the name Personal Independence Payment (PIP). 191 of the 278 respondents answered this open text question. For those who provided a positive response, a number of themes were identified.

Positive words – 'personal independence'

The vast majority of respondents liked that the name PIP refers to 'personal independence.' Some respondents felt that the word 'independence' focuses on ability rather than disability and makes clear that the financial payment can be used to help an individual to live independently.

"It's solution focussed - on the goal rather than on the person's shortcomings or illnesses."

"I like the implied notion of independence for disabled people regardless of their ability or disability. It conveys a very positive message."

"It stresses that independence is facilitated through access to additional resources."

Some respondents said that the word 'personal' implies autonomy and decision making in how to use the payment, which can be tailored to individual circumstances and needs. 'Personal' was also seen by some to indicate that the payment is for an individual and is not affected by other family members' circumstances and resources.

"It indicates support to be independent and make the most of what you can do, not be dependent on others. It also reminds people that it is the individual's personal payment and not something for others to allocate on their behalf."

"The words personal and independence imply that an individual can use the payment to meet their own requirements."

Excludes 'disability'

As discussed in the previous section on DLA for Children, the vast majority of respondents disliked the word 'disability.' It is perceived to be potentially stigmatising and discriminatory because it focuses on the disability rather than the individual. As a result, many respondents said that they liked Personal Independence Payment because it does not refer to 'disability'.

"The fact it doesn't push the narrative that the person in receipt of PIP may have physical limitations."

"Does not include disability: indicates person is capable sounds less discriminating."


By referring to 'personal independence' and not using the word 'disability', respondents said that the name PIP feels more inclusive, positive and neutral.

"It's quite a hopeful name - implies personal freedom."

"It is neutral. It doesn't stereotype people."

"I think the name has a more positive and empowering meaning."

Short and easy to remember

Respondents liked that the name Personal Independence Payment is short and can be further shortened to acronym PIP. Respondents said that PIP is easy to use, say and can be easily remembered.

"I think this name should remain, because it is short and easily recognizable."

"Well, obviously PIP is a nice sounding acronym, and it's inclusive and positive."

"It is clear, and shortened to PIP easy to talk about."

Clear and self-explanatory

Some respondents said that they liked that the name PIP 'tells you exactly what it is' and is 'self-explanatory.' They also described it is as 'clear' 'simple' and 'easy to understand.'

"It says what it is quite clearly; a Personal Payment to enable Financial Independence for Disabled people."

Some respondents simply said PIP is 'fine as is', 'appropriate' and 'fits the bill', but did not provide any further information on why they thought this.

Personal Independence Payment – Dislikes

Respondents were asked what they disliked about the name Personal Independence Payment (PIP). 183 of the 278 respondents answered this open text question. For those who provided a negative comment, a number of themes were identified.

Negative public associations and personal experiences

The vast majority of respondents said they disliked that the name PIP held negative associations and memories of the benefit as administered by the DWP. Respondents provided often emotional comments detailing their feelings about the name. They referred to both negative public associations and also negative personal experiences with the benefit.

Some respondents highlighted the public reputation of PIP, as seen in the media. They said the name carries 'negativity', 'stigma' and a 'bad reputation.' These respondents wanted new names for the benefits being devolved to Scotland.

"The scaremongering and negative media publicity it has become associated with."

"The notoriety the name now has attached to it - it's very negative."

"I don't like the name as it has become synonymous with misery."

Respondents also said PIP provoked negative memories of claiming the benefit, for example, through face to face assessments, appeals and tribunals and problems with payments. Some respondents said that the name PIP was therefore 'triggering' for them. These respondents disliked the name PIP because of the experiences associated with the benefit, rather than the words in the name itself.

"It's too triggering of the old system."

"The name 'PIP' brings up feelings of trauma, due to how badly it is administered by the DWP. I can't see the words without my heart rate increasing."

"It just conjures up all the difficulties in claiming this benefit. The process can be demeaning and very difficult for those trying to claim."

"It's become a synonym for terror, stress, and a mythical award for thousands who relied on DLA to live."

"The majority of people have had a nightmare claiming it so just hearing the name fills us with dread."

Negative word – 'independence'

As outlined above, many respondents liked that the name PIP refers to 'personal independence.' Some respondents, however, disliked the name because of this term. These respondents felt that reference to 'personal independence' is misleading because it may not be reflective of reality. They said that, for some people, independence is not attainable.

"I disagree with the word "Independence". It is very unlikely that you will live an independent lifestyle, free from other forms of government and charity help. You are likely to need this type of support for mental and physical issues which can be ongoing. Independence is a long way off."

"Not all people with disabilities can be independent. I don't like the word independence used in this context."

"If only it did what it "says on the tin". Name gives a bigger hope of true independence than the benefit in fact supplies."

Purpose unclear

A small number of respondents said it is not clear what the purpose of PIP is or who is eligible for it.

"If you didn't have knowledge of this benefit you'd likely not know what it does."

"It could mean any number of things."

"It does not tell you what it is for and who it is for."

Additional themes

A small number of respondents said that the old DWP name 'Disability Living Allowance' is better, and that the name PIP is 'impersonal' and 'patronising.' Some respondents said that they did not like the word 'payment' but did not explain why. A few respondents said that the name is too long.



Back to top