Good Tidings - will there be some good news for recipients of PIP and ESA?Dec 21st, 2017
The assessment process for these benefits affects so many PFP clients. A significant proportion of the welfare benefit advice we provide is in response to failings with the assessment. Whilst it has been dispiriting to read recent reports on this topic, there is a little optimism that change may follow.
The House of Commons, Work and Pensions Select Committee, inquiry into the assessment process Welfare benefits have been back in the news. The delays and difficulties with claiming Universal Credit made the headlines recently, resulting in some welcome and surprising good news as the government reacted with positive policy changes. for ESA and PIP has received an unprecedented response. Usually the committee receives 100 responses to calls for evidence however, for this inquiry, over 3,000 people and organisations have submitted evidence revealing frustration and despair with the ESA and PIP assessments.
This follows two recent reports into the same issue. The Rethink Mental Illness report, ‘It’s Broken Her’, published in December 2017, finds the assessment process for both ESA and PIP is utterly unsuitable for those living with a mental illness. The report suggests assessments inherently discriminate against those with mental illness, effectively worsening the claimant’s health, and calls for an urgent comprehensive reform of the assessment process to make it fit for purpose.
An earlier survey in October 2017, from over 80 organisations that make up the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), had similar findings. In a survey of over 1,700 people with long-term conditions including Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and mental health problems, more than three quarters (79%) of respondents said their assessment for PIP had made their health worse due to stress and anxiety. Key findings include:
- Over 70% of respondents found the PIP application form ‘hard’ or ‘very hard’ and 11% of respondents were unable to complete it at all.
- People are losing out on vital support with half (50%) of respondents saying they were receiving less money under PIP than they were previously entitled to under DLA, or they had lost their award completely.