Two parents and a little girl play with a train set

PIP is a lifeline for disabled people and needs to be protected

We know that life costs more if you’re disabled. Personal Independence Payments (PIP) play a key role in helping disabled people to manage some of these extra costs.

Last week the Government announced plans to tighten up access to PIP. We are concerned that this reduction in financial support will make it harder for many disabled people to live independent and fulfilling lives.

The extra costs of disability

Scope research shows disabled people spend on average £550 a month on costs related to their impairment or condition. For one in 10, these costs amount to £1,000 a month.

The additional costs disabled people face broadly fall into three categories:

  • Expensive purchases of specialised equipment, such as wheelchairs or screen readers.
  • Greater use of non-specialised goods and services, such as energy or taxis and private hire vehicles.
  • Paying more for non-specialised goods and services, such as insurance or higher tariffs for accessible hotel rooms.

These costs have a detrimental impact on disabled people’s financial stability. For instance, disabled people have an average of £108,000 fewer savings and assets than non-disabled people, whilst households with a disabled person are more likely to have unsecured debt compared to households without a disabled member.

The financial barrier of extra costs makes it harder for individuals to get a job, access education and training opportunities, pay into savings and pensions, and participate fully in their community.

The role of PIP

The role of PIP – and its predecessor Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – is to support disabled people to meet the additional costs of disability.

Unlike other aspects of the welfare system, PIP is not an income replacer like Employment and Support Allowance or Jobseeker’s Allowance, nor is it designed to boost people’s income when wages are low like tax credits. It serves to level the playing field between disabled people and non-disabled people by helping to tackle the financial penalty of disability.

This puts disabled people in a stronger position to contribute to, and benefit from economic growth as employees, savers and consumers. In research we carried out with over 500 recipients of either PIP or DLA, over half said that PIP was important in helping them to work. A further 58 per cent said that even a small reduction in their PIP award would have a significant impact on their ability to live independently.

Our concerns with proposed changes to PIP

Scope has welcomed previous commitments by Government to protect the value of PIP and keep it free from any taxation or means-testing.

However, last week proposed changes to PIP regulations were announced that would make it harder for many disabled people to score points for certain descriptors in the assessment.

This follows two recent legal judgements which ruled in favour of awarding higher points during a PIP assessment for people who need help taking medication, or who can’t travel alone due to “psychological distress”.

Since the announcement, Scope has received a number of queries through its helpline, online community, social media and customer contact teams from current disabled claimants who are worried about whether these new changes would affect them.

A new PIP assessment

We are concerned that the changes Government are proposing make a crude distinction between those with physical impairments and mental health problems, which will lead to many disabled people missing out on vital financial support with disability-related costs.

However, we know that someone’s impairment or condition is not an accurate indicator of the additional costs they face. Disabled people have unique experiences of additional costs, which often arise as a result of barriers to participating fully in society. For instance, somebody with an anxiety disorder who finds it difficult using public transport may have to consequently spend more on taxis to get around.

We want to see reform of the PIP assessment so that it accurately captures the range and level of disabled people’s extra costs. Disabled people with lived experience of these costs should be directly involved in designing and setting a new assessment criteria.

What Scope is doing

We are calling on Government to think again about these changes and are briefing government officials about why it is so important that they don’t go ahead.

Our Chief Executive has also spoken to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to raise our concerns and ask Government to rethink its decision to reduce access to PIP.

We will continue to raise our concerns with PIP in the media to ensure Government hears disabled people’s experiences of extra costs.

We’re keen to hear from you about why PIP is important to you or about your experiences of getting PIP. If you’d like to share your story, please comment below or email stories@scope.org.uk.

For further information about PIP, visit Scope’s website or call our helpline for free on 0808 800 3333.

10 thoughts on “PIP is a lifeline for disabled people and needs to be protected”

  1. last year I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. The conditions affect my ability to walk and stand. I also have pain and weakness in my hands which mean I struggle with grip and carrying things. I need helping washing, cooking, getting dressed and going out. I work so intilially didn’t think I was entitled to help. I was told by a friend to apply for PIP. Getting awarded PIP has turned my life around. I didn’t know how I would lead a normal life again when I became ill. PIP has made that possible. It is the difference between me being able to work and not. It is the difference between me being able to socialise and leave the house and not. Because of PIP I have been able to buy mobility aids such as a wheelchair and walking frame which means I can go out with friends and family. I able to get a taxi to work if I feel too tired or overwhelmed by public transport. Being awarded PIP has also made it easier to access other services such as a companion buspass, blue parking badge and occupational therapy who can help adapt my home. I also qualify for a house move which means I don’t have to tackle stairs to leave the house.
    PIP is not a hand out. I am not a “benefit scrounged” . I am just another member of society looking to do her part and lead a reasonably normal life. PIP allows me to do that.

    1. Your story is inspirational. Don’t ever feel you are a “benefit scrounger!” The fact that the benefit helps you to continue to work is great. There are now many people who received help with Mobility cars and Scooters under DLA who have now been denied this help under PIP and also many who have lost their claim for both care and mobility altogether. Many of them needed their cars to get to work. The word ‘personal independence” should mean that for both the physically disabled and mentally disabled. Long may you receive this help and if they try to take it away from you then fight with all your remaining strength to keep it.

  2. I am still claiming DLA and waiting to be reassessed for PIP. I also work for CAB as a Benefit Caseworker the quality of assessments carried out are absolutely shocking, DWP are using paramedics. Health visitors and general nurses for assessments, in my opinion these So called Healthcare Professionals don’t have the skills to assess chronic pain and long term health conditions which can be complex and varied. I am concerned about the mobility component and the changes being brought in by the government, the mobility component gives us disabled people our freedom and prevents isolation. I am unable to walk without significant pain and can only walk with a number of aids. When I am reassessed my main concern will be the mobility component because without this I will not be able to work, but I will be able to fight any decision right through the reconsideration and appeals process, if you need assistance to challenge a decision go to your local CAB they should have a Benefits Caseworker to help you through the process and help gather evidence.
    Looking at medical evidence what is Scope doing about GP’s charging for evidence, in my experience some GP’s are charging £150 for evidence other only £10 is scope able to offer help with these charges

    Julian Osborne
    Pontypridd

    1. Hi Julian,

      Scope wouldn’t be able to help directly with these charges. However, this is an issue we’re looking into as part of our influencing work.

      Our helpline might be able to offer further support with this matter, who can be contacted on 0808 800 3333.

      Thanks,
      Minesh

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