Disability Benefits: PIP and the General Election

Disability Benefits

With media coverage of Teresa May’s recent encounter with an angry voter in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and the General Election only weeks away, disability benefits have again come into focus.  

What is the Personal Independence Payment?

PIPs, or Personal Independence Payments, are disability benefits that are payable to disabled individuals aged between 16 and 64. They are intended to cover the additional costs imposed by ill health, learning difficulties or disabilities - including spinal cord injury.

Not means-tested, PIPs are gradually replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Personal Independence Payment Claims

Analysis of benefit cuts by the Labour party in 2016 revealed that 200,000 claimants would lose their award of personal independence payment (PIP) altogether. Changes to the PIP points system meant that fewer points would be awarded to people who need to use aids or appliances to help with using the toilet or dressing and undressing. As a result, the complete loss of PIP would cost 200,000 claimants almost £3,000 a year.

In addition, a further 400,000 claimants would see their award cut from the enhanced rate to the standard rate, costing them over £1,400 a year. 

An analysis by Press Association suggested that the rate of zero scores - those that would result in a PIP refusal - would increase to 14% this year from 13% in 2016 and 8% in 2015. 

Angela Eagle, the former work and pensions minister, commented on these findings, stating that “It’s a trend we’ve noticed about people, from usually passing the PIP criteria or disability living allowance [DLA, its predecessor benefit] criteria to getting fewer points even though they’ve got chronic conditions that are worsening.”

The now shadow work and pensions secretary - Debbie Abrahams - said: "This analysis clearly shows that the Government's social security cuts are failing disabled people. It is becoming increasingly clearer that these flawed Tory assessments only create further waste and expense."  

Frank Field, chairman of the Work and Pensions select committee has pointed out that, by reverting to accurate PIP assessments, the Government will save itself both this time and money.

Tory party chairman Mr McLoughlin told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “We are spending as a country over £50bn a year supporting people who have got disabilities in this country.  I think we give, overall, very generous schemes. There are changes that come about as a result of tribunals and we have to look at that.  But as far as supporting disabled people, I think overall we do very proudly in this country.”

Personal Independence Payment and the General Election 2017

During her recent encounter, Mrs May was asked by Kathy Mohan: “Do you know what I want? I want my disability living allowance to come back, not have PIP and get nothing. I can’t live on £100 a month. They took it all away from me.”

In the exchange, Mrs May said, “part of trying to ensure that we focus payments on those who most need it, those who are most vulnerable” She added: “There are a number of issues people raise around PIPs. One is about the assessment process and we have been making changes in that to make that a better process for people. We want to try to help those disabled people able to get into the workplace to do so.”

In their manifesto Labour says they’ll scrap the Work Capability and Personal Independence Payment assessments and replace them with a personalised, holistic assessment process that provides each individual with a tailored plan, building on their strengths and addressing barriers.

The Liberal Democrats say they will scrap the Work Capability Assessment and replace it with a new system, run by local authorities according to national rules, including a ‘real world’ test that is based on the local labour market.  They also propose to move towards a health and social care system that empowers and encourages people to better manage their own health and conditions and to live healthier 

Political headlines can, however, detract from the real issues.    Disabled and vulnerable people are all too often portrayed as a cost to the economy and a ‘potential cut’ rather than the fair recipients of much-needed assistance.  To quote our partners Aspire, this tends to divert attention away from what really matters, and away from what society today in Britain should really look like for disabled people:

We would like to see the UK become a society in which disabled people don’t just receive care, support, access services and find work, but rather, thrive, flourish and prosper.”

Aspire Law: The Spinal Cord Injury Solicitors

Aspire Law is a unique joint venture between the charity Aspire - offering practical help to those living with spinal cord injuries - and Moore Blatch solicitors. This combination of skills means that we are best placed to help those lives affected by spinal cord injury by helping them to regain as high a level of independence as possible.

The result is a special and refreshingly unique law firm who take the time to go beyond the case and to really get to know the individual. If you want to find out what makes us so unique in our offering, click here.

We understand that a spinal cord injury compensation claim won't turn the clock back, but a fair financial settlement can help to enable you and your family manage the often substantial costs associated with adjusting to life with a disability such as spinal cord injury. 

As part of your claim, we ensure that all appropriate benefits are received and protected, in addition to your compensation payments.  We have specialist public law solicitors that can advise on all aspects of benefits to include any challenges/appeals over a PIP decision.  Our partners at Aspire also offer advice and advocacy regarding PIP applications and appeals.  

Contact Us

If you want more information about the claim process, discuss a second opinion or whether you are unsure if you have a case, please get in touch today.  

PHOTO CREDIT: The Telegraph News