PIP Reform Green Paper’s Clear Agenda Is Reducing Financial Support To Disabled People Says DR UK

Tue,30 April 2024
News Benefits
The Government has issued a Green Paper consultation on the need for extensive personal independence payment reform (PIP), openly predicated on its perceived need to radically cut expenditure on the benefit.

In his foreword to the document, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Mel Stride says: “I am concerned about the sustainability of the current model. 

“Over the coming 5 years, PIP spending is expected to grow by 63% (£21.6bn to £35.3bn, 23/24 to 28/29). There are now over 33,000 new awards for PIP per month compared to 17,000 before the pandemic.”  

The Green Paper proposes  radical reforms that will transform and restrict the support given to Disabled people and remove the principle of extra cash support for disability related costs they face.

Proposals include changes to to the eligibility criteria for PIP, the PIP assessment, and alternative forms of support, such as vouchers beyond ongoing cash payments.

Dan White Policy Officer of DR UK said: “The clear agenda of the Government's latest proposal is to reduce the number of Disabled people receiving the crucial support we rely on…Being offered vouchers is more than an insult; it is dangerous… they will shut us off from our communities, leaving thousands without access to crucial services and support…

“Their punishing approach, which is obsessed with austerity, sanctions and conditionality, has fuelled increases in disability and sickness by under-resourcing not just the social security system but also health services, social care, education, housing and transport.”

The Green Paper consultation is set to last 12 weeks from 29 April.

It is important to note that any new PIP reforms will require new primary legislation that cannot be introduced until after the general election.

The publication - Modernising support for independent living: the Health and Disability Green Paper proposes several changes to the current PIP system.

These options include:

  • Making changes to eligibility criteria for PIP.
  • Redesigning the PIP assessment to better target it towards the individual needs of disabled people and people with health conditions.
  • Reforming the PIP assessment so that it is more linked to a person’s condition.
  • Moving away from a fixed cash benefit system.
  • Moving towards a better join up of local services and a simpler way for individuals to access all forms of support and care, whilst reducing duplication.
  • Exploring “alternative ways” of supporting people to live independent and fulfilling lives.
  • This could mean financial support being better targeted at people who have specific extra costs, but it could also involve improved support of other kinds, such as physical or mental health treatment.

PIP assessment reform

The Green Paper acknowledges that “some people continue to find assessments difficult and stressful” and that “the criteria used in functional assessments may not always fully reflect how a disability or health condition impacts on daily living.”

The DWP will consider whether evidence of a clinical diagnosis made by a healthcare professional could provide a more objective assessment of need than the current functional assessment.

Eligibility reform

The DWP will explore whether the current qualifying period of three months correctly captures people with long-term health conditions and disabilities.
What support should be provided?.

Possible alternatives to a cash payment system proposed are:

Catalogue/ shop scheme: in this kind of scheme, there would be an approved list from which disabled people could choose items at reduced or no cost. This would likely work better for equipment and aids rather than for services.

Voucher scheme: in this kind of scheme, disabled people could receive vouchers to contribute towards specific costs. It could work for both equipment/aids and for services.

A receipt-based system: this would involve claimants buying aids, appliances, or services themselves, and then providing proof of their purchase to claim back a contribution towards the cost.

One-off grants: these could contribute towards specific, significant costs such as for home adaptations or expensive equipment.

Also considered is whether support should be financial or take a different form, such as improved access to healthcare (such as mental health provision or physiotherapy) or enhanced local authority support (such as care packages, respite or home adaptations).

Aligning support

The Green Paper argues that local authorities, the NHS and other partners are best placed to understand the specific needs of their population, hence the Department will consider aligning PIP with existing local services.

Reactions to the Green Paper include:

Chief Executive of Mind Dr Sarah Hughes: “The PIP assessment is already an incredibly difficult process... Taking away crucial financial support from people with mental health problems is not going fix anything, it will make things worse… If the government was serious about supporting people with mental health problems back to work, it would prioritise investment in our overstretched mental health service.”

Mental Health Lead, British Medical Association Dr Andrew Molodynski: “This approach is as cruel as it is ineffective. The Government would be better placed properly funding the critical health and social services that keep people healthy, and tackling the record levels of poverty this country is facing.”

Svetlana Kotova Policy Officer of Inclusion London: “This is another brutal ideological attack on our rights, at a time when the UK’s welfare policies were yet again found by the UN to be leading to grave and systematic violations of Disabled people’s rights.

“We should have access to that treatment anyway, alongside needing PIP.

“People who get social care already don’t get to spend their PIP, as social care charges take money from PIP and other benefits.

“Many people with the highest support needs find it difficult to identify and prove all their extra costs (as shown through our work on social care charges), so they would lose out again.”

Modernising support for independent living: the Health and Disability Green Paper is available from gov.uk

See also our news story DR UK Responds To Proposed Changes To Personal Independence Payment (PIP).