The Conservative party has made many promises to benefits claimants, but only time will now tell if they uphold their manifesto. The pledges for changes to Personal Independence Payment benefits include fewer assessments and doubling the PIP award. Unfortunately, they have made no concrete promises for Universal Credit. For those unable to work due to disability, it is important to know what to expect for the welfare system in the next few years.
Fewer PIP Assessments
The continuing current government recognises that frequently having to prove disability in order to receive benefits like PIP is stressful and demeaning for claimants. Amber Rudd, the former Work and Pensions Secretary, said that disabled pensioners and anyone who is not likely to experience a significant change in their disability should not have to go through the dehumanising tests to have their benefits entitlement reviewed regularly. She has resigned as an MP since then, but the Conservative party is still promising to make improvements to the PIP waiting times and a large number of mandatory reconsideration tribunals for PIP.
PIP Payment Reductions
These promises are all well and good, but at the moment more than 650,000 claimants have had their PIP benefits cut by the DWP. Almost half of people moving over from the Disability Living Allowance to PIP have found themselves with less money than they should have been entitled to. Over 350,000 claimants have lost their PIP award altogether since 2013, and more than 300,000 claimants had their PIP award reduced to a lower amount. Many of the affected claimants do not have the time, money, or ability to appeal against the decision and take it to a tribunal for reconsideration. The assessment criteria need to be changed, not just the frequency of the assessments, in order to make decisions more fair for disabled people.
Enhanced Mobility PIP Losses
Further proof that the PIP assessments need to be reviewed more closely than proposed is the fact that over 100,000 disabled people have lost their Motability vehicles following a PIP reassessment. This restricts the independence and health of claimants who were unfairly told that they were not eligible for the enhanced mobility rate and were told to return their Motability vehicles as a result. The enhanced mobility component is supposed to apply to anyone with severe walking difficulties, and previous Conservative government reforms have been particularly harsh towards such people. The Conservative party has not addressed this issue in their manifesto, so it is uncertain whether they will heed complaints and take action.
Is PIP changing in 2020?
With the upheaval of the general election still fresh, as of now there are no plans set in stone for definite changes to PIP. Current claimants should continue to receive their payments as normal, apart from PIP payments due on Christmas bank holidays, which should be awarded early. The Personal Independence Payment criteria remains the same, as do the reviews and payment times, until further notice from the DWP. The claimants who are still receiving DLA will need to apply for PIP when they turn 16 or if they are under 64. If the government acts on its promise to double the length of the PIP award from 9 months to 18 months before reassessment, this change should be announced and enforced by late 2020 or early 2021.