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Personal Independence Payment

Volume 651: debated on Thursday 20 December 2018

I would like to update the House on the improvements my Department is making in personal independence payment (PIP). The guidance available to PIP case managers was updated in August 2018 to ensure those who are awarded the highest level of support whose needs are unlikely to improve or will deteriorate receive an ongoing award with a light-touch review at the 10-year point. Following on from the introduction of that guidance in August, we have now commenced activity to review the claims of existing claimants on the top level of support to identify those individuals who, in light of the new guidance, should be receiving an ongoing award. This is still in the early stages and being dealt with in date order, prioritising claimants whose awards are coming up for an award review, but commencing this activity is a really important step to reducing the number of individuals having to undergo an unnecessary award review where their needs are only likely to deteriorate.

A copy of the guidance for case managers has been placed in the House of Commons Library and is available at: guidance_10.10.18.pdf.

The light-touch review process and guidance itself has not yet been developed, but we aim to do so well in advance of the first such reviews taking place. We intend to consult with stakeholders as part of that process.

My written statement of 25 June 2018 (HCWS793) informed the House that my Department had begun an exercise to identify anyone who may be entitled to more support under PIP as a result of the MH and RJ decisions of the upper tribunal. The MH decision broadened the interpretation about how symptoms of overwhelming psychological distress should be assessed for the purpose of mobility activity 1 in PIP. The RJ decision concerned how the Department considers a claimant to be carrying out an activity safely and whether they need supervision to do so. I committed to regularly updating the House of developments regarding this administrative exercise.

The Department has today published an ad hoc release of management information on the administrative exercise:

As at 23 November 2018, 140,000 cases had been cleared, of which 1,000 had been paid arrears. The average payment made is approximately £4,500. We are monitoring the numbers of, and reasons for, revised awards closely and making regular quality checks in order to ensure that our decision making is accurate and fair.

Given the complexity of the exercise we have started at a relatively small scale to test our processes and ensure they are effective before ramping up. At the same time we have recruited over 250 additional staff to increase resources available for this exercise, with more to follow over the coming months.

In addition, we are redirecting resource from other areas of PIP. This means the administrative exercise will conclude in 2020. Some DLA to PIP reassessments that would have taken place in 2019-20 will move to the following year. I believe that prioritising cases where claimants are entitled to arrears is the correct approach.

Further information on how the administrative exercise is being undertaken is set out in an updated frequently asked questions. I will deposit a copy of this document in the Library of the House.

Furthermore, I would like to inform the House that the Department implemented another upper tribunal decision on 17 December and will commence a review exercise in the new year.

This exercise regards the decision in OM which was handed down on November 2017. This decision refers to DLA claimants transferring to PIP, who failed to attend or participate in their PIP consultations, and who had their DLA terminated as a result, but where, subsequently, DWP decision makers or tribunals have decided the claimant had a “good reason” for not attending or participating. The decision states that in these instances claimants’ DLA awards should be reinstated, until a final decision on their PIP claim, and back paid, as necessary. We accept that the same approach applies where claimants who failed to provide information or evidence were later found to have “good reason” for the failure to comply.

The Department has been working at pace and taking the necessary steps required to implement the ruling. We expect around 4,600 people to gain as a result of this review exercise, all claimants who benefit from the upper tribunal decision will be notified by the Department.