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PIP independent review published

17 December 2014

An independent review of the Personal Independence Payment assessment

On 10 April 2014, the Minister of State for Disabled People appointed Paul Gray to lead the first independent review of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment. The report was published today.

Disability Rights UK is deeply unsurprised that the independent review of PIP has found the process ‘disjointed’. We believe that this is putting it mildly given that today’s published PIP statistics show a backlog of 240,800 claims (40%) awaiting clearance.

Whilst we welcome some of the recommendations of the review and call on government to implement them in full, there is little in the review which inspires confidence in the PIP backlog being cleared.

We hear from people daily who are struggling with the PIP claim process; who experience massive hardship because of delays of months in getting their assessment completed. Disability Rights UK would like to see a halt to the further roll out of PIP, in October 2015, until the existing backlog has been fully cleared.

Background to the review

In his review, Paul Gray explored how PIP is operating and the effectiveness of the assessment. He set out a series of recommendations based on information gathered throughout the review. The recommendations focus on 3 main areas:

  • improving the claimant experience
  • clarifying and improving the collection of further evidence
  • the overall effectiveness of the assessment

Key findings

Overall the report describes the PIP ‘claiming experience’ as problematic.

“The current Personal Independence Payment (PIP) process gives a disjointed experience for claimants. Some short term improvements are needed, for example to communications including decision letters. In the longer term, there should be a more integrated, digitally enabled claims process under common branding that would improve claimant experience and effectiveness.”

The report finds it is too early to draw definitive conclusions about the overall effectiveness of the PIP assessment based on available published data. It recommends that a rigorous evaluation strategy that will enable regular assessments of the fairness and consistency of award outcomes be put in place, with priority given to the effectiveness of the assessment for people with a mental health condition or learning disability.

The responses to the call for evidence showed the most concern over the delays and backlogs for claiming and receiving PIP as well as the complexity of the PIP2 claim form.

The report makes a number of recommendations to be carried out in the short medium and log term including:

In the short term

  • clearer communications to claimants about the assessment process
  • redesigning structure and content of decision letters
  • ensuring assessment provider rooms allow claimant and assessor to at a 90 degree angle
  • monitoring the application of Activity 11 – ‘Planning and Following Journeys
  • reviewing how aids and appliances are taken into account
  • ensuring consistent application of the rules on reliability and fluctuating conditions

In the medium term

  • suggested improvements the collection of further evidence, including consistency regarding the evidence required, sharing work capability assessment evidence, Departmental information and assessments from the wider public sector (such as social care reports).
  • put in place a ‘rigorous’ evaluation strategy that will enable regular assessments of the fairness and consistency of award outcomes be put in place, with priority given to the effectiveness of the assessment for people with a mental health condition or learning disability.

In the long term 

  • Review the PIP claims process, adopting a design that maximises the opportunities presented by greater use of digital and other technologies which would:
  1. allow claimants to track the status of their claim
  2. move away from a one size fits all model to one tailored to the needs of claimants

A full list of recommendations is in Annex 4 of the review.