Government makes ‘significant changes’ to PIP assessment criteria


The government has made “significant changes” to the criteria it will use to assess disabled people’s eligibility for the new personal independence payment (PIP), but early analysis of the alterations suggests key concerns remain.

The Department for Work and Pensions today published its final plans for how it will assess claimants of PIP, the replacement for working-age disability living allowance (DLA).

Disabled activists and disability organisations are tonight examining the detail of the new assessment criteria, but some areas of concern have already emerged.

In its initial briefing, Disability Rights UK said the plans would see “some disabled people who need help with eating, taking medication, bathing, toileting and even avoiding ‘overwhelming psychological distress’ lose vital support”.

Fazilet Hadi, director of inclusive society at RNIB, welcomed “some significant changes” to the criteria, but said there were still “serious concerns” about how assessors would interpret the daily living component of PIP.

She said that changes to the criteria – thanks in part to RNIB lobbying – should mean that blind and partially-sighted people who use a white cane as a mobility aid would be treated “on a par” with guide dog-users.

Hadi said: “This means that people currently on the higher [mobility]rate of DLA should now get the enhanced mobility rate on PIP.”

But she said there were concerns that some partially-sighted people who currently receive the lower rate care component of DLA would not qualify for the PIP standard daily living rate, which could see them lose more than £1,000 a year.

The three care components of DLA – lower, middle and higher rate – will be replaced by just two PIP daily living rates, as part of government plans to cut spending by 20 per cent by 2015-16.

Hadi said: “RNIB is calling for the government to clarify how the reading criteria will be applied to partially-sighted people who might be able to read text in the home by using technology, but cannot read fixed signs outside the home.”

The PIP regulations will be debated in Parliament early next year.

13 December 2012