Today I am laying before Parliament amendments to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Regulations to restore the original aim of the benefit, making sure we are giving support to those who need it most.
PIP is a modern and dynamic benefit which contributes to the extra costs faced by people with disabilities and health conditions. It replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA), which no longer properly took into account the needs of disabled people. Since PIP’s introduction, greater support is going to the most vulnerable; over a quarter of those on PIP receive the highest level of support compared to just 15% of DLA’s working-age claimants.
At the core of PIP’s design is the principle that non-physical conditions should be given the same recognition as physical ones. That is why we developed the assessment criteria in collaboration with disabled people and independent specialists in health, social care and disability. Now, over two thirds of PIP claimants with mental health conditions get the higher Daily Living award, worth £82.30 per week, compared to 22% under DLA.
The Government continually monitors the effectiveness of PIP to ensure it is delivering its original policy intent and supporting those who face the greatest barriers to leading independent lives. Two recent Upper Tribunal judgments have broadened the way the PIP assessment criteria should be interpreted, going beyond the original intention. In order to make sure the initial purpose of PIP is maintained, we are making drafting amendments to the criteria which provide greater clarity. This will not result in any claimants seeing a reduction in the amount of PIP previously awarded by DWP.
The first judgment held that needing support to take medication and monitor a health condition should be scored in the same way as needing support to manage therapy, like dialysis, undertaken at home. Until this ruling, the assessment made a distinction between these two groups, on the basis that people who need support to manage therapy of this kind are likely to have a higher level of need, and therefore face higher costs.
The second held that someone who cannot make a journey without assistance due to psychological distress should be scored in the same way as a person who needs assistance because they have difficulties navigating. By way of example, the first group might include some people with isolated social phobia or anxiety, whereas the second group might include some people who are blind. Until this ruling, the assessment made a distinction between these two groups, on the basis that people who cannot navigate, due to a visual or cognitive impairment, are likely to have a higher level of need, and therefore face higher costs.
If not urgently addressed, the operational complexities could undermine the consistency of assessments, leading to confusion for all those using the legislation, including claimants, assessors, and the courts. It is because of the urgency caused by these challenges, and the implications on public expenditure, that proposals for these amendments have not been referred to the Social Security Advisory Committee before making the regulations.
PIP is being devolved to the Scottish Government and I will continue to work closely with Scottish Ministers on the transfer of responsibilities.
The Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017, Explanatory Memorandum and Equality Analysis will be available on legislation.gov.uk.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords