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Disability Benefits Operational Update

Volume 680: debated on Thursday 17 September 2020

I would like to update the House on the Department’s plans to implement the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v. MM, known as MM1, into the personal independence payment (PIP) assessment process.

The Supreme Court judgment concerned the definition of “social support”, when engaging with other people face to face, in activity 9 of the PIP regulations, and how far in advance that support can be provided.

I set out to the House on 23 July 2019 that we would carefully consider the full judgment before updating the House on our implementation plans. We have worked hard to implement the judgment quickly, but given the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on our staff resources and services, this has taken longer than we would have liked. We have also consulted Mind, the mental health charity, which intervened in the Supreme Court case.

We have now made the necessary changes to the way PIP activity 9 is assessed and these are reflected in revisions to the PIP assessment guidance (PIPAG) published today on gov.uk at: https://www.gov.uk/government/ publications/personal-independence-payment-assessment-guide-for-assessment-providers/pip-assessment-guide-part-2-the-assessment-criteria.

Despite the challenges, all DWP staff and healthcare professionals working for our assessment providers have been trained to apply the judgment. DWP will be applying the changes to all decisions from today. A FAQ will be deposited in the Library of the House.

On 23 July 2019, I also confirmed that the Department would be undertaking an administrative exercise to check whether claimants are entitled to more PIP as a result of the judgment. This is a complicated exercise and we are still planning our approach. This will be a substantial undertaking and will take some time.

I also want to update the House on the administration of severe disability premium transitional payments (SDP).

On 22 July 2019, we laid legislation to provide additional financial support for former SDP recipients who had moved to universal credit on account of a change of circumstances. As at 17 January 2020, we had already paid over 15,000 people, totalling more than £51.5 million.

The Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 provide for the conversion of these transitional payments into transitional elements. This means that payments will be made through the UC system rather than manually, and all transitional protection will be subject to the same rules.

I will be signing a determination setting the conversion day to 8 October 2020 and will place a copy in the Library. This is when the UC system will have capacity to convert SDP transitional payments to transitional elements.

1Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Appellant) v MM (Respondent)(Scotland) 18 July 2019 https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2017-0215-judgment.pdf.

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