Any social security policy that is implemented with the expressed aim of “targeting those most in need” is invariably about cost cutting and reducing eligibility criteria for entitlement. The government were explicit in their statement about the original policy intent of Personal Independence Payment. The government has already considered ways of reducing eligibility criteria for the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment by narrowing definitions of aids and appliances, earlier this year.
In July, the Department for Work and Pensions appointed Paul Gray CB to undertake the second “independent review” of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment. This is the second independent review as required by Section 89 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012.
This review includes a call for evidence of the PIP assessment. It seeks information about how the PIP assessment is “working.” The consultation includes all stages of the PIP process, with a particular focus on the use of further evidence in the claim process, data sharing and the claimant experience.
However, I’m just wondering where the ever-reductive targeting quest for the ever-shrinking category of “those with the greatest need” will end. The evidence that a policy “working” is usually related to the stated original aim. In this case, PIP isn’t a policy aimed at meeting the needs of disabled people. It’s a policy that is ultimately aimed at cutting support for ill and disabled people.
We have already witnessed a shrinking of eligibility criteria for people formerly claiming Disability Living Allowance, a marked increase in the number of reassessments required, and a limiting of 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.
Any “review” will therefore be framed by the original intent of the policy. However, that does not mean we should not respond to reviews and submit evidence, as a review provides us with an opportunity to flag up concerns regarding inadequacies experienced by those the policy is meant to support, too. The policy is not meant to serve the government, who are on an ideological crusade to dismantle all social security support, ultimately.
Disability benefits were originally designed to help sick and disabled people meet their needs, additional living costs and support people sufficiently to allow a degree of dignity and independent living. You would be mistaken in thinking, however, that Personal Independent Payment was designed for that. It seems to have been designed to be the Treasury’s ever-increasing pocket money. Or as profits for private providers who constantly assess, monitor, coerce and attempt to “incentivise” those people being systematically impoverished by the state to make “behaviour changes” by taking any low paid, insecure and poor quality work, regardless of how suitable or appropriate that is.
Apparently, that is the Conservative psychobabble “cure” for “worklessness,” which, regardless of market conditions, health, socioeconomic circumstances and poor political decision-making, is always down to an individual’s “bad behavioural choices.” The government regard work as a “health outcome.” I expect that soon, work coaches will replace doctors, and the Department for Work, health and Pensions will subsume the NHS.
For what it’s worth, Paul Gray will use evidence from the second review to inform his report to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The second review will be laid before Parliament by April 2017.
Individuals and organisations are invited to submit evidence to help inform the review by answering the following questions. Where the Department for Work and Pensions use the word “condition” in these questions they mean disabilities, health conditions and impairments. They use “condition” for short.
Your responses can only be taken into account if you press submit at the end of the survey form, if you send a submission using that method.
The deadline for submissions is 5pm on 16 September 2016.
The note on privacy: “By providing personal information for the purposes of this call for evidence, it is understood that you consent to its disclosure and publication. If you want the information in your response to be confidential, please explain why and we will endeavour to do so. However we cannot guarantee to do this.”
- Terms of reference for the second independent review of the PIP assessment
- First independent review of the PIP assessment
- www.gov.uk/pip – who is entitled to PIP and how to claim it
Ways to respond
PIP Independent Review Team
Department for Work and Pensions
“Consideration of the ability of a claimant to carry out an activity safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and in a reasonable time period is key to the PIP assessment. We recognise that these ‘reliability criteria’ and the rules setting out how fluctuating conditions should be considered are an important protection for claimants, and these are enshrined in legislation” – Government’s second response to the first Independent Review of the Personal Independence Payment Assessment