Tag Archives: personal independence payment

“Utterly damning report” on PIP and ESA Assessments

Yesterday, the government published the latest Work and Pensions Select Committee report on PIP and ESA Assessments.

The benefits system is clearly failing – asking a claimant how they caught Down’s Syndrome is appalling. One lady was put down as able to walk her dog, even though she did not own a dog and could hardly walk.

The most vulnerable in our society are not being properly …

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Good news for disabled people as Government gives up fighting PIP decision – maybe

Good news slipped out in a written ministerial statement on a Friday afternoon. New Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey announced that the Government would not continue its appeal of a High Court judgement that its changes to entitlements to Personal Independence Payments for those whose mental ill health affected their ability to get around were unlawful. Ms McVey said:

On 21st December 2017 the High Court published its judgment in the judicial review challenge against regulation 2(4) of the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 S.I. 2017/194. The Regulations reversed the effect of the Upper Tribunal judgment in MH.

I wish to inform the House that, after careful consideration, I have decided not to appeal the High Court judgment. My Department will now take all steps necessary to implement the judgment in MH in the best interests of our claimants, working closely with disabled people and key stakeholders over the coming months.

These regulations went through Parliament last March. Liberal Democrat peers did their best to stop them and would have succeeded if Labour had voted with them. As I wrote at the time:

Not for the first time, you have to wonder what the point of the Labour Party in Parliament is. Should they not just go and sit on the Government benches?

LDV reader Matt wrote last year about how he would lose his support for mobility when he moved from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments and the life-limiting impact that would have for him:

I hardly ever go outdoors, I tend to only go out when it is for a necessity like going to the doctor, psychologist or hospital and then I need my partner or family member to accompany me to keep me safe and to intervene in the event of me having a psychological episode. I can on very rare occasions manage a trip out to the countryside as long as it is a wide open space and there is nobody else about and I can see any perceived threats well in advance and I am able to escape and get back to the car or home quickly. I have become totally disengaged from society; I cut all ties with friends and former work colleagues many years ago. When I am outdoors, if I am confronted with a possible social interaction my brain starts racing at a million miles an hour. I convince myself they are going to ask me personal questions which will cause me distress. My brain starts running through conversations before they have taken place, it becomes sheer manic and panic, trust me when I say it is pure trauma. When I get home, the only way I can deal with this “psychological distress” is to start self harming and deflect my emotional trauma into a physical trauma as a distraction to escape my thoughts. It is hell.

I worry about these changes to disability benefits, not just for myself, but for people like me who suffer from debilitating mental health disorders who rely on the assistance of others and the welfare state in order to try and live an independent life.

So why do I say that this is good news….maybe. Simply because I don’t trust the Tories with any aspect of our social security system.  What will happen now is that all 164,000 claims affected by this ruling will be reviewed. By rights what should happen is that those affected will get their payments – and backdated, too. 

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The UK’s ritual humiliation of disabled people – Part 2 The PIP interview

In an earlier post, I wrote about the process of withdrawal of Disability Living Allowance and the requirement for disabled people to apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), as I experienced it in caring for my adult son Paul who has a condition known as Williams Syndrome. Several respondents shared similar stories, and urged our party to adopt a much stronger care policy for disabled people, so far to no avail. (I was by the way mistaken in my claim that all PIP application notices had been sent out over Christmas and New Year – it appears that a rolling programme is in place and this was just when Paul happened to receive his notice).

As other respondents also warned, the PIP application form and subsequent interview deepen the hostile challenging nature of the process. The application form is indeed 40 pages long. Brutally, DWP specifically refuses to allow a PIP applicant to state a well-known, well-documented medical condition with known symptoms as a statement of need. So for example you’re not allowed to state conditions such as Downs Syndrome or in Paul’s case Williams Syndrome and then allow this to refer to all its known symptoms and detailed conditions. Instead DWP insists that the applicant sets out in detail all the distressing elements of that condition, from intellectual lack of capacity, physical impairment, to hygiene and continence issues. I completed the form, ending up choked with distress at having to specify this detail. 

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Liberal Democrats are the only party standing up against PIP cuts

If you haven’t read Matt’s article about how the changes to Personal Independence Payments will affect him, then please do so.

Last night, the amazing Liberal Democrat peers did their best to try and stop the Government’s plans in their tracks. They filed a fatal motion which, like the one that saw off the fatal changes to tax credits, would have forced the Government to think again.

What they needed was the support of the Labour Party. However, as we know from Brexit, Labour don’t seem to be up for providing any opposition that actually means anything. Did they vote for our motion? No. They did, however, put down their own motion which amounted to little more than “We don’t like this very much but we aren’t going to do anything about it.”

Be in no doubt that if Labour had supported our motion, these PIP cuts would not be happening.

Following the votes,  Baroness Celia Thomas, Lords Spokesperson for Disability, said:

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Despite fight by Lib Dems, government changes today deny up to 160,000 people suffering from mental health disabilities access to Personal Independence Mobility Component

As we reported less than a month ago, Liberal Democtrats in the Parliament have been fighting the government’s decision to deny disability benefits to 160,000 vulnerable people. The government have refused to listen and the new regulations came into force today.

Stephen Fry tweeted:

He links to this message from Mind, the mental health charity:

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Lib Dem Lords aim to kill new Tory restrictions on disability benefits

The Liberal Democrats have tabled a motion to kill Government attempts to severely restrict disability benefits.

The move follows an announcement by the Government that they will be tightening the criteria for claimants of Personal Independence Payments (PIP) which could see diabetics and those with mental illnesses stuck without support. The Government has introduced these restrictions after losing two cases at tribunals.  From the Minister’s statement:

The first judgement held that needing support to take medication and monitor a health condition should be scored in the same way as needing support to manage therapy, like dialysis, undertaken at home. Until this ruling, the assessment made a distinction between these two groups, on the basis that people who need support to manage therapy of this kind are likely to have a higher level of need, and therefore face higher costs.

The second held that someone who cannot make a journey without assistance due to psychological distress should be scored in the same way as a person who needs assistance because they have difficulties navigating. By way of example, the first group might include some people with isolated social phobia or anxiety, whereas the second group might include some people who are blind. Until this ruling, the assessment made a distinction between these two groups, on the basis that people who cannot navigate, due to a visual or cognitive impairment, are likely to have a higher level of need, and therefore face higher costs.

Responding to the announcement Baroness Cathy Bakewell, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said:

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Baroness Thomas writes… Getting Personal Independence Payments right

This afternoon the Department of Work and Pensions announces a significant change on the new Personal Independent Payments following significant Lib Dem pressure. Celia Thomas, the Lib Dem peer who has campaigned tirelessly on the issue, explains why it’s a major win.

Getting the rules governing Personal Independence Payments right is vital. The new benefit, which will begin to replace Disability Living Allowance later this year, will have a huge effect on disabled people up and down the country.

I’m broadly in favour of the change to PIP, which seeks to clarify the eligibility of disabled people to this benefit, the purpose …

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Opinion: Disability Living Allowance replacement will cause economic and human cost

Under the Welfare Reform Act 2012, passed by the government earlier this year, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for disabled people of working age is due to be replaced by Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) with a net result of a 20% reduction by 2015 in the DLA budget – it is worth pointing out at this point that the fraud rate for DLA is estimated by the Department of Works and Pensions to be less than 0.5%.

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Opinion: what’s wrong with Personal Independence Payments?

I joined the Lib Dems only a couple of months ago after being a long time voter. In fact, I first voted Lib Dem back in 2001 at my very first election. I decided to join now because I wanted to become more politically active and because I was deeply unhappy with some of the policies of the Government. I’m totally blind, have been since the age of 5 and am extremely disturbed by the removal of Disability Living Allowance and its replacement by Personal Independence Payments.

There’s a great deal I could say about the current proposals and how they …

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Lord German writes… A benefits system that works: the Welfare Reform Bill in the House of Lords

As Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Party Committee on Work and Pensions the Welfare Reform Bill has absorbed most of the past year. It is now in the final stages of passage through the House of Lords. There has been some negative press surrounding the Bill, which is clouding aspects that have been long term goals of the Liberal Democrats.

A big first step is being taken towards our long term ambition of merging tax and benefits. Our benefit system is the most complex and cumbersome system in the developed world. It requires an annual book to be published which explains …

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The Independent View: Coerced, bullied and fighting back: living with Multiple Sclerosis and Welfare Reform

I am a 54 year old woman who has had Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis for around 6 years. It involves increasing pain and loss of mobility and, as there is no remission, only progression, it takes me all of my energies to manage.

After the legion of neurological symptoms forced me to give up work I have had to endure the trauma of an Employment and Support Allowance “medical assessment” by ATOS Healthcare (a French private contractor), I have struggled to attend the mandatory Work Related Activity Group, which was not a safe place in my worsening condition.

I waited months for an appeal and won, but live in fear of the brown Department of Work & Pensions envelope that indicates that the whole sorry process will start again, as appears to be the case for many who win their appeals.

If the Welfare Reform Bill is agreed this week, I face the same stress and anxiety in yet another assessment, to test for an already proven condition, in order to retain high rate mobility Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in its new guise as Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

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