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Unpacking PIP

September 2, 2016

With many thanks to Bob Williams-Findlay.

PERSONAL INDEPENDENCE PAYMENT is a welfare benefit introduced by the Tory led Coalition government and designed to replace the DISABLED LIVING ALLOWANCE. Like DLA, it has been packaged to help with the extra costs of living with a long-term health condition or a disability. I want to offer a quotation to hang my post on. The PIP Assessment Guide (Updated on 1 May 2016) states:

‘It would not be practical for the assessment to take account of the impact of a health condition or impairment on all everyday activities, nor to seek to include all possible areas where extra costs may be generated.’

This, in my opinion, confirms my view that Lord David Freud is a complete and utter liar! He claimed PIP would have a social approach, then swiftly altered that to saying ‘a bio-psycho-social’ one however this quotation shows neither approach is used. PIP uses a ‘functional loss’ reductionist approach which the UK developed from the Woods’ World Health Organisation ICIDH – long since replaced by the ICF (THE bio-psycho-social approach). PIP’s assessment methodology has been flawed from the start and sticks two fingers up to the approach found with the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People. It therefore means, like DLA, PIP has a focus on the impact of a health condition or impairment on ‘daily living’ and ‘mobility’ – In other words, individuals may be entitled to the daily living component if they need help with things like preparing or eating food, dressing and undressing, or making decisions about money. And individuals may be entitled to the mobility component if they need help going out or moving around.

To fully understand the full oppressive nature of PIP it is necessary to unpack its historical, social and political context; understanding why it was introduced and the consequences – at both macro and micro levels of society. One could simply focus upon thousands of individual stories or as I often do, talk about the supposed purpose and methodology of PIP, both things are important, but doing so wouldn’t adequately address the whole picture.


Alf Morris first Minister of Disabled People introduced the Mobility Allowance – the forerunner of DLA.

Despite overseeing the introduction of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in 1992, Nicolas Scott ultimately became the target for significant criticism from disability campaigners, including his own daughter.

When DLA was introduced in 1992, it covered 1.1 million people, at a cost of around £3 billion. That has since risen to more than £12 billion a year. LCD recently argued Disabled people face costs of an extra 24% on top of normal expenditure.

There were issues with DLA, but the Tories didn’t address these.
Methodology was inadequate with DLA, but PIP’s totally oppressive.
The system began for new claimants in April as Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, pledged to end a “ridiculous” system that gives people lifetime awards. My impairment is for life, so I’d assume the extra cost of living with it and the social consequences would be as well.

Esther McVey, the Conservative Minister for Disabled People, said: “Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit introduced over 20 years ago and was very much a product of its time.
“The Personal Independence Payment has been designed to better reflect today’s understanding of disability, particularly to update our thinking on mental health and fluctuating conditions.

“We are introducing a new face-to-face assessment and regular reviews – something missing in the current system. This will ensure the billions we spend on the benefit give more targeted support to those who need it most.”

Mark Lever, Chief Executive of The National Autistic Society, said: “Before anyone had even walked through the door to take the new test, the Department for Work and Pensions had already suggested that successful claimants would drop by 600,000 and spending would fall by a fifth. It smacks of a cost-saving exercise, when it should be a genuine drive to make the system fairer and deliver support to everyone who needs it.

DPAC based upon research argued this was a under-estimation.

Material reality

By October 25, 2013, 92,000 PIP claims outstanding with assessment providers – Atos Healthcare and Capita Health and Wellbeing – almost three times the number expected by the DWP at this stage. The National Audit Office blamed the backlog on the assessment process taking longer than expected.

Frances Ryan said: “Without PIP a disabled person can’t access anything from carer’s allowance to severe disability premium. If that isn’t enough, anyone who is rejected – or bumped down to the standard rate – is also barred from the Motability scheme for an accessible car or powered wheelchair.

According to Motability, who lease cars and powered wheelchairs to the disabled, 3,000 out of 8,000 of their customers who have so far been reassessed have lost their eligibility for the scheme and have therefore had to give up their vehicles. And this could rise to more than 100,000. [March 2015]

Between 400 and 500 adapted cars, powered wheelchairs, and scooters are being taken away from disabled people every week. Independence gone – with a maximum of seven weeks to hand your lifeline back. As an insight into the logic, let alone empathy, in this system, that’s notably less time than it takes to go to appeal or even to get the results of mandatory reconsideration – meaning the DWP’s ruling can be overturned, but the disabled person’s car or wheelchair will already have been taken. (At the last count, 60% of appeals against PIP were successful).


PIP is part of the neoliberal agenda – it’s ideological, not about cost-saving in the first instance – redefinition of ‘in need’, new contours around who is ‘deserving’ and forced labour. UNUM, James Parnell, ATOS CAPITA and Maximus are as guilty as Duncan Smith, Freud and Miller et al.

March 2016 there was overwhelming public opposition to the disability benefit cuts put forward by George Osborne in the Budget, a series of polls has revealed.

Cuts to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) confirmed by the Chancellor would have raised £4.4 billion by 2020, by stripping people who use specially adapted appliances of payments. Justin Tomlinson said at the announcement of the cuts that they would make PIP work better – the bog standard ‘double-speak’. It was a small victory when overturned, but the continuation of PIP means Disabled people are being shafted on a massive scale.

One Comment leave one →
  1. jeffrey davies permalink
    September 4, 2016 6:41 am

    hmm rtu ids said he get 60000 off benefits nowing there was 600.600 on dla nowing full well this target will be met

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