How long will we have to wait for PIP to work?
20 June 2014
by Tony Richards
Ghandi said ‘A society can be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable members.’ Well today a report from a committee of MPs made it clear that the way in which the new benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was introduced is failing thousands of disabled people.
PIP is the benefit aimed at helping with the extra costs that come as part of being a disabled person.
But today the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, made up of more than a dozen MPs from across the political parties, says the rollout of this new benefit (which replaces Disability Living Allowance) has led to disabled people facing unacceptable wait times for assessments and, as a result, facing unnerving uncertainty for long periods of time.
There has been much discussion about the financial impact of the move to PIP, but these waiting times have a very real human cost.
Some disabled people have to wait almost half a year for their assessments to be conducted, struggling to get by without the vital support that they need. Those unable to travel to the assessment have often faced their home visits being cancelled at the last minute, further adding to their distress.
Disabled people have also been made to travel significant distances to their assessments — something that can prove extremely difficult if your local bus or train service is inaccessible. While PIP aimed to ensure claimants have to travel no further than 30 minutes to their assessments, almost half (40%) have to travel for an hour.
The MPs found that the mismanagement of this new policy was causing ‘unacceptable pressures and stress on this vulnerable group‘ – far from the ‘personal independence’ the benefit is meant to promote. At Leonard Cheshire we have heard from people awaiting assessment who have, owing to their lack of income, lost their homes, and ended up reliant on food banks and their families to survive.
Leonard Cheshire Disability, other campaigners and disabled people themselves have been warning about these issue for a long time. This scandal has a terrible impact on some of the most vulnerable people in the country.
It’s crucial for all those who need this vital support that the government improves the quality of its assessment process. Without improvement we will hear more terrible stories in the years ahead.
Tony Richards is an intern on Leonard Cheshire Disability's Change100 scheme.