Disability Benefits Consortium Response To PIP Aids And Appliances Descriptors Consultation
The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) has responded to this consultation, which sought views on changing the way that aids and appliances are taken into account when determining entitlement to the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
The DBC is a national coalition of over 60 different charities committed to working towards a fair benefits system. Using its knowledge, experience and direct contact with disabled people, family and carers, it seeks to ensure Government policy reflects and meets the needs of all disabled people. Disability Rights UK is a member of the DBC
The review asked for comments on the following options for reform, all of which would result in less PIP being awarded:
A lump sum payment for claimants who meet or exceed the eligibility point threshold for the daily living component but score all of their points from aids and appliances. The value of this lump sum could be less than the cumulative value of the equivalent monthly payments. It could be discretionary and could be restricted, for example through the use of vouchers. It would not act as a passport to any other benefit or benefit premia and would not exempt claimants from the benefit cap. Claimants scoring at least some points from other descriptors would be paid at the relevant weekly rate, as now.
A monthly payment below the equivalent weekly rate for claimants who meet or exceed the eligibility point threshold for the daily living component, at either rate, but score all of their points from aids and appliances. This payment would not act as a passport to any other benefit or benefit premia and would not exempt claimants from the benefit cap. Claimants scoring at least some points from other descriptors would be paid at the existing weekly rate.
A new condition of entitlement that claimants must score some points from a descriptor that does not relate to aids and appliances. This would mean claimants would not be entitled to the daily living component if they scored all of their points from aids and appliances irrespective of whether they met or exceeded the point threshold for either rate. Claimants scoring at least some points from other descriptors would be paid at the relevant weekly rate, as now.
To change the definition of aids and appliances in relation to the relevant daily living activities to exclude items that are a poor indicator of additional cost and need. These items could be distinguished by reference to whether they are available at low or no cost and/or whether they are commonly used by non-disabled people for the same purpose. Claimants who used aids and appliances that were a good indicator of extra costs would be paid at the relevant weekly rate, as now.
Halving the number of points awarded from 2 to 1 for the use of aids and appliances in relation to some or all daily living activities. Claimants scoring at least some of their points from aids and appliances could lose entitlement to their current award rate. Claimants scoring all of their points from other descriptors would be paid at the relevant weekly rate, as now.
Our view on the consultation
This consultation is prompted in part by comments made by PIP independent reviewer Paul Grey.
“For most activities, the use of an aid or appliance scores two points. This is the lowest level. This reflects the fact that many aids and appliances are: widely available, relatively low cost and easy to use. Individuals who rely on them are likely to encounter lower barriers and costs than individuals unable to complete activities at all, or who require help from other people to do so.
As highlighted by the first independent review of the PIP assessment by Paul Gray, this policy does not appear to be working as intended. DWP doctors therefore reviewed a sample of 105 cases were claimants scored all, or the majority, of their points due to aids and appliances, to assess the extent to which the award may reflect extra costs.
The results of this review suggest that significant numbers of people who are likely to have low or minimal additional costs are being awarded the daily living component of the benefit solely because they may benefit from aids and appliances across a number of the activities, despite the relatively low point score awarded for them.
In addition to this, recent judicial decisions, based on the current legislation, have broadened the scope of aids and appliances to include articles, such as beds and chairs, which are unlikely to be a reliable indicator of extra costs.
These developments are inconsistent with the original policy intent of awarding the benefit to claimants with the greatest need. We have therefore decided to consult on how aids and appliances are taken into account when determining entitlement to the daily living component.”