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Social Security Benefits: Chronic Illnesses

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN 188360, tabled on 7 June 2023

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to ensure that people with (a) severe and (b) lifelong conditions are not subjected to unnecessary reassessments for (i) Personal Independence Payments and (ii) other benefits.

Answered on

13 June 2023

We want to reduce unnecessary assessments for people with severe and lifelong health conditions which will not improve.

We announced in the ‘Future Support: Health and Disability Green Paper’ that we will test a new Severe Disability Group (SDG), so that those with severe and lifelong conditions can benefit from a simplified process to access PIP, ESA and UC, without needing to go through a face-to-face assessment or frequent reassessments. We will consider the test results once complete to influence thinking on the next stages of this work.

We have made changes to help reduce the frequency of repeat assessments some people need to go through on Personal Independence Payment. We have also ensured that people who receive the highest level of support, and whose needs will not improve, together with most people over State Pension age, receive an ongoing award of PIP with a ‘light touch’ review at the 10-year point.

For the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), the Severe Conditions Criteria (SCC) were introduced in 2017 and are applied during the WCA for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and the additional health-related amount of Universal Credit (UC). They identify claimants who have severe disabling lifelong conditions whose level of function would always mean that they are unlikely ever to be able to move into work. Claimants who meet the SCC are not routinely reassessed.

We are also now supporting people via changes to the Special Rules for End of Life and the testing of a new Severe Disability Group (SDG). These changes will ensure that people receive access to the financial support they need as quickly as possible, and will simplify the assessment process for people with severe and lifelong conditions that will not improve.