RNIB urges Department for Work and Pensions to stop breaking the hearts of blind people

Post date: 
Tuesday, 13 February 2018

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has issued an unconventional Valentine’s letter to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about Personal Independence Payments (PIP) [1].

The letter urges the DWP to stop breaking the hearts of blind and partially sighted people going through the PIP application process.

Last year RNIB set up a dedicated team to deal with the increasing number of blind and partially sighted people contacting it about problems claiming PIP and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Between January – December 2017, RNIB supported 861 blind and partially sighted people in challenging the DWP’s decisions about their PIP and ESA cases. This cost RNIB a total of £515,519 and a similar amount is estimated for this year.

RNIB is calling for the DWP to:

  1. Ensure the PIP assessment and decision-making processes are fair for blind and partially sighted people
  1. Make the PIP assessment process accessible for blind and partially sighted people, taking into consideration their individual needs.

Fazilet Hadi, Deputy Chief Executive of RNIB, said:

“This Valentine’s Day, we want the Department for Work and Pensions to stop breaking the hearts of the people we care about. The PIP application and decision-making processes are causing blind and partially sighted people real hardship and distress. Many are having their claims wrongly refused.

“The DWP’s contracted assessors Capita and Independent Assessment Services (formerly Atos) are conducting poor assessments. They don’t understand sight loss and they don’t understand its impact on blind and partially sighted people’s daily lives. We’ve even heard of some assessors conducting eye tests when claimants already had a Certificate of Visual Impairment signed by an ophthalmologist. It’s outrageous.

“PIP assessments need to be undertaken by assessors with an appropriate understanding of sight loss. They also have to be delivered in accessible ways for blind people to fully take part.

“It’s clear the PIP assessment and decision-making processes are not working; the DWP urgently needs to reform them.”

Blind and partially sighted people can get PIP information and advice by calling RNIB’s helpline on 0303 123 9999 or email: [email protected]

 - Ends  -

 

Notes to editors

Personal Independence Payment is a benefit that helps with the extra costs of a long-term health condition or disability for people aged 16-64.

[1] “Dear DWP,

We write with a heavy heart. We’ve had a long, sometimes difficult, relationship. Things started well. We both want to support the same people, we both want to make a difference. 

But it’s time to be honest about what’s gone wrong with Personal Independence Payments. We tried talking to you, we sent you other letters. Nothing changed. Perhaps we don’t want the same things after all?

It’s not just our heart that your incompetence and lack of empathy is breaking. You’re hurting the people we care about. We’ve been left to pick up the pieces.

To get things back on track you need to change. Let’s talk.

Yours in hope,

RNIB”

Case studies and RNIB spokespeople are available for interview.

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About RNIB

Every 15 minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and we're here for everyone affected by sight loss – that's over 2 million people in the UK. If you, or someone you know, has a sight problem, RNIB can help. Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit www.rnib.org.uk