The government has launched a public consultation into how the use of aids and appliances is accounted for during assessments for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
PIP is designed to help people with the extra costs associated with their disability, so it is necessary for the assessment criteria to be able to identify correctly the support that a claimant requires.
A recent independent review of PIP highlighted concerns that the current policy on aids and appliances might not be working as well as possible. Further recent analysis by DWP found that of those who qualify for PIP solely on the basis of their use of aids and appliances, the vast majority receive their weekly rate of £55 despite having low or minimal additional costs arising from their disability – with some having no identifiable costs.
In addition, recent judicial decisions have broadened the scope of what is considered to be an aid or appliance. For example, courts have found that everyday items such as a bed or chair could be considered an aid or appliance if a person uses them to help dress themselves.
This means that the definition of aids and appliances includes articles that are unlikely to be a reliable indicator of extra costs, as they are widely available and commonly used irrespective of the level of need.
The government is therefore seeking views on a range of options to ensure that PIP is meeting its original policy intent – which is to provide support to people with the extra costs associated with their disability. The consultation document outlines 5 broad options for making changes and the government is keen to hear the views of disabled people and their organisations.
The Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson said: “The introduction of Personal Independence Payments to replace the outdated Disability Living Allowance for working age claimants has been a hugely positive reform.
“However, concerns have been raised that the assessment criteria might not be working as planned. The criteria for aids and appliances has expanded to, in some cases, include items we would expect people to have in their homes already, have only a one-off cost associated with them, or are already available free of charge on the NHS.
“With 35% of claimants for daily living allowance doing so solely on the basis of their use of aids and appliances, we think it is important to consult widely on this issue to ensure we’re getting it right, and we look forward to hearing the responses.”