Shaw Trust, in partnership with the Disabled Living Foundation have recently responded to the Department for Work and Pension’s second independent inquiry into Personal Independence Payments (PIP). PIP was introduced to help individuals meet the extra costs of having a disability, including care and mobility costs, by creating a fair and supportive non-means tested benefit.
PIP is an assessment of functional impact – the assessment for claiming PIP does not measure how disabled a person is, but rather, it measures how an individual’s disability affects their ability to carry out day-to-day activities. The financial amount allocated is based on how a person’s condition affects them, not the condition they have. The submission draws on both our front line experience of delivering services to individuals with health conditions and disabilities, as well as a survey conducted by Shaw Trust and DLF using DLF’s Youreable site.
During the PIP claim process, claimants are asked to provide any relevant evidence or information they already have (known as further evidence). Health professionals conducting the assessment can also consider requesting additional evidence from anyone who understands the individual’s circumstance – a social worker for example. If this is listed, it will be listed on the claimant’s form. Our consultation response specifically addresses how effectively further evidence is being used to assist the correct claim decision for PIP. Our response explores how effective the guidance provided by DWP is at ensuring the correct type of further evidence is provided, and cites examples of where the process has not worked as well as it could have.
Firstly, Our survey revealed that individuals are not clear on the use of further evidence in their claims process, and in some instances they are submitting evidence that isn’t relevant to the scope of the assessment.
Instead of submitting evidence which explicitly highlights how their disability affects their ability to carry out day-to-day activities, they are submitting evidence which highlights the extent of their disability, believing that the DWP will infer functional impact. For those who failed to successfully claim PIP, the fact they had expressed clearly what they thought was the correct evidence about the severity of their disability, but still not qualified for PIP, subsequently felt angry, confused, and resentful toward the process. DWP needs to make clear the purpose of providing further evidence is to highlight the effect of disability on an individual’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities.
This could be done through a visualisation or a “walk-through example” of a claimant journey, explicitly highlighting how their use of further evidence provides proof of functional impact. These examples could show the further evidence each individual provided for their claim and then the hypothetical example of their claim.
Secondly, The PIP assessment does not make clear who is ultimately responsible for obtaining further evidence. During the claims process, individuals are asked to provide any relevant evidence or information they already have that explains their circumstances. Specifically, the evidence should highlight how their health condition or disability affects their lives on a day-to-day basis. However, PIP health professionals assessing the claim can consider requesting additional evidence from anyone familiar with the claimant’s circumstances, such as a GP or social worker listed on the claimant’s form, to help them score the assessment There is no clear understanding of who is ultimately responsible for obtaining this evidence. This confusion creates gaps in evidence and varying effects on claim decisions. To ensure that every individual is able to provide the right evidence and access the right amount of PIP, this responsibility needs to be made explicitly clear by the DWP.
. This lack of clarity is reflected in our survey results. In our survey, some respondents thought it was up to them to obtain further evidence, and others thought it was up to the assessment provider to obtain further evidence.
Finally, In January 2016, Shaw Trust and DLF previously submitted our consultation response to the proposed changes on how the use of aids and appliances is scored when claiming PIP. While the decision to change the assessment was overturned, we still believe it is important to share our views on any future changes. Shaw Trust and DLF believe that the consultation should also consider the impact of the previously proposed changes to the use of aids and appliances in the PIP assessment. The inclusion of aids and appliances in the assessment criteria is intended to:
“…Provide an indication of where an individual requires functional support, and therefore reflects the extra costs that an individual who needs aids and appliances is likely to have in their everyday life, not just in those activities that are part of the assessment.”
As part of our response, we find that the DWP should continue to build its evidence base before any new decision on the use of aids and appliances in qualifying for PIP are taken.
For any questions, please contact Annie Kohanek at Annie.Kohanek@shaw-trust.org.uk (opens in new tab or window)