Take action to protect Personal Independence Payment
Tuesday, 16 February 2016
RNIB is urging people with sight loss to write to their MP to address plans that could affect their personal independence payment (PIP).
The potential changes centre around the daily living component of PIP. This helps disabled people to cover extra daily living costs that arise as a result of their disability. The money supports disabled people with everyday tasks such as cooking, dressing, reading and communicating. In order to qualify for the daily living component, claimants must be unable to complete various daily tasks unaided. Claimants who score the required number of points during the assessment then qualify to receive PIP (normally every four weeks).
The current rules can award points to claimants who depend on an aid or appliance to help them live more independently or safely. For people with vision impairment (VI), such items can range from assistive computer software for magnification and speech to liquid-level indicators and talking microwaves. It’s not so much the particular appliance that matters as the fact that one is needed – indicating a disability that is likely to involve a range of extra costs, such as paying for cleaning, help with shopping, maintaining the home etc. Claimants with VI often score points across several daily living categories, which can result in them qualifying for PIP.
The Department for Work and Pensions is now concerned that too many people are scoring highly in aids and appliances assessments (and thereby qualifying for PIP). The Department has therefore put forward five proposals, which formed the basis of their recent consultation. These restrict access to PIP through the aids and appliances route, which RNIB argues therefore fails to recognise the range of extra expenses which the need to use aids and appliances signals.
To make matters worse, the loss of PIP, could impact on entitlement to other benefits, such as Carer’s Allowance or benefits that have premiums if you get PIP.
Ministers and civil servants are now considering the proposals, and how they could be implemented. RNIB is very concerned that they could negatively affect people with VI, as many qualify for PIP through scoring points on the basis of aids and appliances. RNIB believes that the Department for Work and Pensions has failed to consider the reality of extra costs faced by people with VI.
RNIB has worked with a number of other VI organisations to prepare and submit a response and is encouraging supporters to write to their MPs to raise concerns about the proposals and air them to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith.