The Tory government is considering ways of reducing eligibility for the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) by narrowing definitions of aids and appliances.
A recent review led the government concluded that PIP doesn’t currently fulfill the original policy intent, which was to cut costs and “target” the benefit to “those with the greatest need.”
That basically meant a narrowing of eligibility criteria for people formerly claiming Disability Living Allowance, increasing the number of reassessments required, and limiting the number of successful claims.
Prior to the introduction of PIP, Esther McVey stated that of the initial 560,000 claimants to be reassessed by October 2015, 330,000 of these are targeted to either lose their benefit altogether or see their payments reduced. The former Minister of State for Disabled People lost her seat to Labour’s Margaret Greenwood in the 2015 General Election.
The government now say that the proportion of people awarded the daily living component of PIP, who scored all of their points because they need aids and appliances, has more that tripled, from 11 per cent in April 2014 to 35 per cent in 2015
This increase has largely been driven by a significant and sustained rise in relation to activities one, four, five and six: preparing food, washing and bathing, dressing and undressing, and managing incontinence and toileting.
Around three-quarters of those who score all of their points through aids and appliances score the minimum number of daily living points needed to qualify for the standard rate of the daily living component.
The government claim that evidence presented to the review suggested that in some instances points were being awarded “… because claimants chose to use aids and appliances, rather than needed them, and noted that in many cases these were non-specialised items of very low-cost.”
The government also say: “The results of the review suggest that significant numbers of people who are likely to have low or minimal additional costs are being awarded the daily living component of the benefit solely because they may benefit from aids and appliances across a number of the activities, despite the relatively low point score awarded for them.
“In addition to this, recent judicial decisions, based on the current legislation, have broadened the scope of aids and appliances to include articles, such as beds and chairs, which are unlikely to be a reliable indicator of extra costs.
“These developments are inconsistent with the original policy intent of awarding the benefit to claimants with the greatest need.
“We have therefore decided to consult on how aids and appliances are taken into account when determining entitlement to the daily living component.”
Other suggestions for cuts include:
- Targeting resources through a lump sum payment for claimants who meet or exceed the eligibility point threshold for the daily living component but score all of their points from aids and appliances. The value of this lump sum could be less than the cumulative value of the equivalent monthly payments. It could be discretionary and could be restricted, for example through the use of vouchers. It would not act as a passport to any other benefit or benefit and would not exempt claimants from the benefit cap.
- A monthly payment below the equivalent weekly rate for claimants who meet or exceed the eligibility point threshold for the daily living component, at either rate, but score all of their points from aids and appliances. Again, this payment would not act as a passport to any other benefit or benefit and would not exempt claimants from the benefit cap.
- A new condition of entitlement that claimants must score some points from a descriptor that does not relate to aids and appliances.
However, it’s very difficult to justify cutting support for people who require aids to meet fundamental needs such as preparing food, dressing , basic and essential personal care and managing incontinence.
The government is conducting a consultation and invite views from all interested parties, especially disabled people and disability organisations. The consultation ends on the 29 January 2016.