Government to reform disability benefit tests after PIP failings

The Government has pledged changes to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit system, which grants disabled people funding to help them live more independently.

The changes have been forced by a review published recently which criticised the assessment process of PIPs, claiming they are unfair on claimants, many of whom are missing out on money that they would have been granted under the old system.

PIPs were launched five years ago to replace the old DLA benefit but a watchdog said that rising appeal rates demonstrated failures in the system and made the process stressful for claimants.

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Now more weight will be given to evidence from carers and family when assessing someone for the benefits.

But according to a newspaper report Commons Work and Pensions Committee chairman Frank Field criticised the proposed reforms saying it will do “almost nothing”.

He told the Mirror that even though most recommendations had been accepted on paper, there was little concrete action and most had been put off until later.

“We have heard literally thousands of accounts of the stress and suffering caused by the assessment process for PIP and ESA. This response is a terrible missed opportunity that will provide no comfort to the claimants facing this ordeal.”

Meanwhile, Mark Atkinson, chief executive of disability charity Scope, said: “If the Government is serious about improving PIP, it needs to fix the fundamentally broken assessment.”

PIP claimants can receive up to £141 per week to cover the additional costs incurred by disability.

Earlier this month the Government’s own quality control scheme branded PIP assessments as unacceptable

New data shows the private firms which are responsible for PIP assessments, and earn more than £500m doing it, failed to meet their quality standards target after over 6% of assessments were deemed “unacceptable” between July and October.

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Joe Peskett

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