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Personal Independence Payment

Volume 607: debated on Friday 11 March 2016

Later today I will be publishing Command Paper Cm. 9194: “The Government response to the consultation on aids and appliances and the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment”.

PIP was introduced with the intent of supporting claimants with the greatest need to help them meet the extra costs arising from their disability or long-term health condition. In line with this, it was expected that these extra costs would be significant and ongoing. In December last year, the Department for Work and Pensions launched a consultation on aids and appliances and the daily living component of personal independence payment because of concerns that the policy on aids and appliances might not be not working to achieve this.

This was in light of concerns highlighted by the first independent review of the PIP assessment undertaken by Paul Gray, and evidence that suggested that significant numbers of people who are likely to have low or minimal ongoing extra costs are being awarded the daily living component of the benefit solely because they may benefit from the use of aids and appliances for certain activities. These aids and appliances are often provided free of charge by the NHS and local authorities or can be purchased for a low one-off cost. The number receiving the daily living component of PIP solely as a result of needing aids or appliances had also tripled in the space of 18 months for claims assessed under normal rules. In addition to this, there had been a number of judicial decisions, based on the current legislation, that had broadened the scope of aids and appliances to include articles, such as beds and chairs, which are unlikely to be a reliable indicator of extra costs.

The consultation ran from 10 December 2015 to 29 January 2016 and invited views on how support can best be provided to help meet the costs of people who rely on aids and appliances. The Department was keen that as many people and groups as possible had the opportunity to contribute their views, and held a number of meetings and events with key stakeholders to ensure this.

Having carefully reviewed the evidence, I have decided to proceed with halving the number of points awarded from two to one for the use of aids and appliances in relation to the fifth and sixth daily living activities. The considered view of the Department is that the need for an aid or appliance when completing activities five and six is a less reliable indicator of extra costs than for other activities, and that halving the points for these activities will allow us to continue to deliver PIP in line with our initial policy intent. Points will continue to be awarded for the use of aids and appliances, including on activities 5 and 6, and the points awarded for all other descriptors remain unchanged.

My intention is that these changes will take effect in January 2017, following review by the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC), in line with normal procedure. Additionally, as PIP is due to be devolved in Scotland, I will be discussing these changes with the Scottish Government following the Scottish Parliament elections to ensure implementation is in line with the recommendations of the Smith Commission. The Government continually monitor the effectiveness of PIP to ensure it is delivering its original policy intent and that improvements are implemented where they are identified. A second independent review of PIP is due to be delivered by April 2017.

In addition to delivering these changes, I remain committed to ensuring that we offer the most appropriate and effective support and best possible claimant experience for disabled people. In my meetings with disabled people and stakeholder organisations I am often told about the need for better co-ordination across health and disability support services and the potential to improve outcomes for those with a long-term disability or health condition through closer working between services. That is why I am announcing that the Government will be considering the case for long-term reform of disability benefits and services that is fair for the taxpayer and for those with disabilities or health conditions. Work will be taken forward over the coming months across Government and in consultation with those who provide relevant health and disability services. The findings will be reported to the Prime Minister later in this Parliament.