Government acknowledges problems with disability benefits and announces changes
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd has announced changes to the disability assessments in order to receive Personal Independent Payment (PIP) and Universal Credit (UC).
During a speech at disability charity Scope's offices today, announcements include:
• A new system from 2021 to allow people to share evidence between Universal Credit (UC) and Personal Independent Payment (PIP)
• A test of one ‘integrated assessment’ that would cover UC and PIP assessments
• A test of reducing requirements to look for work for disabled people waiting for a benefits assessment
• A review of the internal process used by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to review benefits decisions
• An end to award reviews for people receiving PIP who are above state pension age
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of mental health charity Mind says:
"We have long been calling for wide-ranging changes to the benefits system. So it’s right that Amber Rudd has acknowledged that in their current form, benefits assessments do not work for disabled people, including those of us with mental health problems. Too often we hear from people about devastating experiences of assessments, where they are forced to recount some of the most difficult experiences of their life to assessors who lack knowledge in mental health. Invasive questions about self-harm and suicidal thoughts, demeaning comments about someone’s appearance, and a complete disregard for people's mental health, are all too common.
“Anything which reduces the number of times people have to endure these assessments are welcome. Change can't come soon enough for the thousands of people with mental health problems put through a confusing and often humiliating process, but these changes could also bring new risks. Many people are fearful about how the DWP use the highly sensitive information collected from these assessments about their mental health. The DWP must make sure everyone who needs support from the benefits system is given full control over how this information is shared and used. Above all we can’t lose sight of the need for a fundamental reform of the assessments themselves, so that anyone applying for benefits is treated with dignity and respect they deserve.”