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Hated PIP tests on the ropes as government reviews all 1.6m claims

This news post is over 6 years old

More cash for disabled people could spell the death knell for the current system

Hundreds of thousands of disabled people will get more cash after the UK government said it is to review all 1.6 million Personal Independence payments (PIP) claims.

It comes after a series of recent legal challenges saw the controversial benefit reviewed and reassessed.

Some 220,000 claims are now expected to be uprated with campaigners saying the flawed assessment process can’t continue in its current form.

The review could cost £3.7 billion by 2023.

The minister for disabled people, Sarah Newton, said the Department Work and Pensions (DWP) was embarking on a "complex exercise and of considerable scale".

She added: "Whilst we will be working at pace to complete this exercise it is important that we get it right."

In December, a High Court judge in England ruled the current system "blatantly discriminated" against people with psychiatric problems and were a breach of their human rights.

Last week, new work and pensions secretary Esther McVey announced the government would not appeal against the judgement, despite not agreeing with certain aspects of it.

Campaigners for disabled people welcomed the move with many believing it sounds the death knell for the controversial medical assessment system.

Dr Sally Witcher, chief executive officer of Inclusion Scotland said: "While welcoming the review, and the fact that there will be no face-to-face assessment, Inclusion Scotland is concerned that there is no timetable for how long this review will take, before disabled people get the benefits they are entitled to.

"Over 200,000 disabled people have been wrongly denied the financial support they are entitled to by the UK Government. The UK government must act quickly to rectify the unjustifiable hardship this is causing, and the continuing negative impact it is likely to be on the mental health of those affected.”

Matt Coulson, who mounted protests outside assessment centres on behalf of Disabled People Against Poverty, called the decision "inevitable."

He added: "As it stands, the PIP assessment process is failing disabled people. This announcement is the beginning of the end, I believe.

"We need to move to a system where independent medical advice is used instead of the current system of biased government contractors.

Genevieve Edwards, director of external affairs at the MS Society, said: “We fully support the decision to look again at all PIP cases. The new rules were clearly denying people essential support. But we don’t know how many people have missed out on PIP as a result of these rules.

“One in three people with MS who apply for PIP have their initial claim rejected, and we want to make sure they get a fair deal too.

“We hope this review will lead to everyone getting the full support they are entitled to, and prompt the government to address the wider issue of how PIP is failing those living with unpredictable conditions like MS.”

Mark Atkinson, chief executive at disability charity Scope, said more had to be done to address all the issues with PIP.

“While it's crucial that the government urgently identifies and pays the vast numbers of disabled people who lost out on this vital support, this will not address the root of the problem,” he said.

"The fundamentally flawed PIP assessment needs a radical overhaul so it accurately identifies the extra costs disabled people face."

Philip Connolly, policy manager at Disability Rights UK, welcomed the review but expressed regret at "persistent failures" of the assessment process.

"Huge amounts of taxpayers' money is being wasted on poor quality assessments which deny disabled people benefits that they qualify for."

How PIP assessments ruin lives

Hated PIP tests on the ropes as government reviews all 1.6m claims

Susan Lightbody describes to TFN what it is like to go through a fit-for-work assessment which everyone receiving disability benefits is required to undertake as part of the move to the new Personal Independent Payments (PIP)

We had been waiting for the letter for over a year. I say we because I look after my dad and any decision affecting my benefits affects him directly too.

I’ve been out of work for nearly 12 years. Diagnosed with COPD and arthritis, my medical condition has never been in doubt. That is until I was assessed for PIP. Suddenly I was having not only to defend myself against the suggestion I could work, but I also had to justify why I can’t.

You are assessed by a nurse in the DWP building in Cadogan Street, Glasgow. You press a bell and a security guard greets you. It doesn’t look like a medical centre – there’s a lot of security and you can feel the tension. It’s a place where people’s lives can be ruined.

Medical records and doctors’ letters have no bearing during the assessment; the assessors make up their own mind. The staff are pleasant but chat is limited. It seems they’ve been told not to converse with claimants as they just smile in response.

Even though I found the nurse pleasant, she asked a range of personal and invasive questions. She wanted to know my relationship status and whether or not being single had anything to do with my illness.

She then asked about my work history, constantly checking this against my records. There were also questions about my lifestyle which I objected to. They ask you to walk 10 metres back and forward. They get you to stand, sit and conduct a series of repetitive tasks many of which I wasn’t sure why Iwas being asked to undertake them.

You end up trying to second guess the examiner. You can’t be yourself as all along you’re worried that by telling the truth you could have your claim thrown out.

And they pick up on everything you say. I got told I was contradicting what I had said earlier when I’d told the nurse I couldn’t stand for long. She said that went against my account of walking for 30 minutes each day. But I meant I couldn’t stand still for long.

By the end of the process I was a nervous wreck. When I got home I burst into tears in front of my dad. It was possibly the most humiliating experience of my life.

Two weeks later I was told I lost my claim for PIP. I was devastated. I appealed and lost but then re-appealed and was “re-assessed.” I did however lose some of my benefits, cash I can ill afford to lose.

If I was told to go through the experience again I’d refuse. I’d genuinely rather go without benefits than get forced to endure that anxiety and stress.



0 0
over 6 years ago
I applied for PIP in 2016, for my Mental Health issues, got zero points, which was what I expected. I went for Mandatory Reconsideration and before I could send in more evidence the judgment letter came through, still zero points.Does this mean that my case will be looked at again, or do I have to reapply? Also does this refer to the whole of the UK?
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