DWP Confirms at this year’s Tory conference: PIP claimants will not be excluded from retests the department admits
The Department for Work & Pension’s DWP has recently confirmed that disabled and sick people who will soon be spared reassessments for out-of-work benefits will still face repeated testing for personal independence payment (PIP).
DWP secretary conservative MP Damian Green’s one key announcement during this week’s party conference in Birmingham was that people with “the most severe lifetime conditions” would no longer have to face repeated assessments to determine their eligibility for employment and support allowance (ESA).
Green stated, the government’s sole duty was to support those disabled and sick claments who cannot work, and
“sweep away unnecessary stress and bureaucracy which weighs them down”.
“If someone has a disease which can only get worse, making them turn up for repeated appointments to claim what they need is pointless bureaucratic nonsense.”
The recent announcement was welcomed by all parties although disabled campaigners said the change would do absolutely nothing to change the essential unfairness and inflexibility of the work capability assessment (WCA) process.
They also said that the same group of working-age disabled people now set to be exempted from repeated WCAs should also be given an opt-out from Personal independence Payment (PIP) reassessments, a call backed by Green party, Jonathan Bartley.
But a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokeswoman confirmed that such claimants would still have to face repeated PIP assessments, even if exempt from further WCAs.
She said: “PIP is an independent benefit, completely separate to ESA/universal credit, with processes adapted for its claimants.
“Award rates and their durations are set on an individual basis, based on the claimant’s needs and the likelihood of their needs changing.”
“Regular reviews for PIP claimants are a key feature of the benefit, and ensure that benefit payments accurately match the current needs of claimants.”
When DNS attempted to clarify this response, another DWP spokeswoman added:
PiP is a separate benefit to ESA, and reassessments will continue as part of current policy.”
A third spokeswoman then confirmed that Green’s announcement, and the change in policy, applied only to ESA reassessments and not to PIP.
A DWP spokeswoman said the criteria would be based on identifying claimants who have a condition that is: lifelong; severe (in “functional terms”); “often progressive and incurable”; with “no realistic prospect of recovery”; and results in high and “minimally fluctuating” care needs, “such that it would be unreasonable to expect the individual to undertake any form or amount of work or work-related activity”.
The exemption will only apply to claimants in the ESA support group – for those with the highest barriers to work – and not to anyone in the work-related activity group (WRAG), while the same criteria will apply to those who claim the equivalent of ESA through the new universal credit.
She said DWP would be “working with stakeholders” to develop those criteria, and it was “too early” to estimate how many people will be affected every year.
Disabled People Against Cuts said the move could potentially “save tens of thousands of disabled people a lot of stress, fear and uncertainty about their financial security”, but questioned why it had taken eight years for DWP’s “geniuses” to “work out there is no point in reassessing people who cannot get better”, and also called for it to apply to PIP re-assessments.