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Personal Independence Payment

Volume 531: debated on Monday 18 July 2011

18. Whether he plans to review his proposal to extend the personal independence payment qualifying period from three to six months. (66547)

A key principle of our welfare reforms is simplification of the complex benefit system, and that proposal is a simplification by bringing the qualifying period for personal independence payment into line with other disability benefits, while providing the sort of supports that people need with their long-term disability problems.

As chair of the all-party parliamentary group on multiple sclerosis, I am very aware of how concerned many organisations are about the Government’s proposals. Will the Minister outline how she expects extending the qualifying period will impact on those with fluctuating conditions, especially when many of them will simply not be able to receive any support elsewhere?

I do not think that the qualifying period will particularly adversely affect individuals with fluctuating conditions, because this is about distinguishing between long-term and short-term disabilities. To qualify for PIP, a person will satisfy a six-month qualifying period, and be expected to meet the overall qualifying period of 12 months. That adopts the common definition set out in the Equalities Act 2010, for consistency.