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DR UK raises further concerns with Minister about new PIP descriptor activity guidance

07 December 2017

Minister for Disabled People Sarah Newton has replied to DR UK’s recent letter on changes to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) guidance following case law relating to the ability to carry out a PIP descriptor activity “safely”.

 See DR UK writes to DWP Minister to raise concerns about new PIP descriptor activity guidance

Entitlement to PIP is determined by an assessment of a disabled person’s ability to carry out specified daily living and mobility activities. They should not be assessed as able to carry out an activity unless they can do so “safely”.

In March 2017, a Three Judge Upper Tribunal panel held that a PIP activity cannot be carried out safely does not require that the occurrence of harm is “more likely than not”.

Instead, what must be is considered is whether there is a real possibility that cannot be ignored of harm occurring, having regard to the nature and gravity of the feared harm in a particular case. Both the likelihood of the harm occurring and the severity of the consequences are relevant.

In her reply to DR UK, the Minister confirms that due to the judgment that:

  • all one and a half million existing PIP claimants will have their PIP awards “reviewed” to check awards should be increased;

  • any PIP arrears are only legally payable to the date of the judgment;

  • only those claimants whose awards are changed following the review will be contacted to tell them of their new award;

  • legal rights of appeal will only attach to those decisions.

  • all health care professionals have received updated training and guidance to enable them to ensure they are able to correctly assess claimants’ safety.

However, DR UK has written to the Minister again as we still have the following three concerns.

1. In carrying out the review exercise, DWP case managers will be considering individual PIP claims and if in each case an award should be remain the same or be increased.

But why will all claimants that are included in the “review” not be told of the outcome and allowed the right of appeal?

As things stand, most claimants will be unaware that their claim has been reviewed and not given the chance of submitting additional evidence as to their need for supervision.

2. The DWP has issued new guidance to case managers the definition of ‘safely’ and the linked term ‘supervision’ - (ADM Memo 29/17).

However, it gives five case studies where a PIP claimant should not be made an increased award but not a single example of where an increased award should be made.

3.  We are concerned that many pre-November 2017 health care professional medical reports will only highlight a “more likely a risk of harm” rather than “a real possibility of harm”.

Where this is the case, we are concerned that these claimants will not be contacted to be encouraged to submit further evidence of their supervision needs.

The training of health care professionals, guidance issued to DWP case managers and the case trawl exercise has not involved disabled people themselves.

DR UK believes that it would be helpful if you were to arrange to meet with Disabled People’s Organisations and other relevant stakeholders to discuss and respond to the type of concerns we have highlighted.