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It’s Time For The Government To Get A Grip On PIP

November 9, 2017

Imagine living with a condition that is only going to get worse but being told you are going to lose the support you rely on. That’s the reality facing thousands of people as a result of the move from the disability living allowance (DLA) to personal independence payments (Pip), and it’s having a disastrous impact on people with long-term conditions such as Parkinson’s.

I started as a welfare rights adviser in 1986 and, while the situation wasn’t ideal back then, it was far better than now.

I help people appeal against Pip decisions. This year I have worked on 34 appeals, with five more pending. I have won every one so far because the process is flawed. People are being presented with barriers from start to finish, and the assessors’ knowledge of conditions is simply not good enough.

Analysis by Parkinson’s UK shows it will cost the government £3m to reassess everyone with the condition for Pip. About £1.3m of this will be spent on people previously identified as having the highest need under the DLA. With a condition such as Parkinson’s they will not have improved so to put these people through another assessment is completely unnecessary.

The new system is not working. We know that 25% of people with Parkinson’s have lost some or all of their award under Pip. One of my clients went from the highest rate under DLA to nothing – he lost his money and his car because it was said he failed to attend an appointment. In reality, he had never received the letter asking him to go. His wife was looking at cheaper houses because they couldn’t afford to stay where they were. Eventually, after medical evidence was reviewed, he was awarded the highest rate again.

But it can take nine months for an appeal to be resolved – and while payments are backdated for successful appeals, you cannot give people back the sleepless nights or repair the damage the stress has caused to their personal relationships.

People are frightened; some stop eating, while others have to repeatedly go back to their GP for extra medication because of the stress.

Another of my clients was diagnosed with Parkinson’s as a teenager. It is advanced and he struggles to walk but has managed to stay in work thanks to a supportive employer. While his wife was on maternity leave, he was reassessed from DLA to Pip, his award was reduced and he lost his Motability car. He couldn’t afford to pay the bills; how could he get to work if he couldn’t use public transport? It took months to force the Department for Work and Pensions to reassess him using the evidence we had already provided.

It’s not unusual for clients to say they don’t want to live any more; the majority have to be encouraged to appeal against decisions. The process makes people depressed and feel like they are exaggerating their condition, which in turn increases the stigma of applying for benefits. I’ve helped people from all walks of life, including pilots and former doctors.

Parkinson’s UK set up a support service for benefit applications in 2015. We have gone from a team of two to a team of five, who could easily work day and night to meet the demand for the service. I shudder to think how many people don’t know where to go for support and just give up.

They say money can’t buy happiness, but happiness is demonstrated by the people we support when their Pip claim is successful. Actually, it’s not just the money; it’s the realisation that finally someone has acknowledged they are living with a condition that has affected every area of their life and they do need the support Pip is supposed to offer.

It is time for the government to get a grip on Pip.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. jeffrey davies permalink
    November 9, 2017 3:03 pm

    like a bridge to far pip isn’t a benefit but a stick to beat the disabled with

  2. November 9, 2017 6:02 pm

    Reblogged this on Christopher John Ball.

  3. November 9, 2017 7:01 pm

    What an appalling situation so many disabled people find themselves in. There are several chronic/lifelong/incurable diseases which I feel should be excluded from these cruel re-assessments. I find myself becoming more and more concerned about the future of welfare rights in our current society. With the removal of legal aid these injustices are becoming almost impossible to fight. The emotional toil and distress of going through these PIP/ESA assessments on top of living with a life changing disability/pain/illness is just not appreciated by those in authority.

Trackbacks

  1. I help people appeal against losing DWP benefits – we can’t keep up with demand | Govt Newspeak

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