The Work and Pensions Committee has called an urgent one-off evidence session in the wake of Government plans to restrict the number of people who qualify for Personal Independence Payments (PIP). The move is designed to cut £3.7 billion from the benefits bill.
Monday 6 March 2017, Wilson Room, Portcullis House
- Sam Ashton, Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer, Z2K
- Gary Edwards, Manager, Southampton Advice and Representation Centre (SARC)
- Kayley Hignell, Head of Policy (Families, Welfare and Work), Citizens Advice
- Tony Lea, Lead Welfare Rights Office, Benefit Resolutions CIC
Background of the session
Last year, the PIP assessment appeals tribunals made two key rulings in favour of extending the groups of people who could access PIP. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said these changes would cost the government £3.7 billion more by 2022. Since the rulings, the Government has rewritten the law to overturn the tribunal findings, and stop these changes from happening.
The Committee has also received a large volume of evidence of serious problems in the process of assessing claimants for PIP. PIP is a benefit intended to help recipients with some of the extra costs of having a health condition. Prospective PIP claimants undergo an assessment carried out by a private contractor (Atos or Capita), with the final decision on eligibility made by DWP. However, substantial proportions of claimants chose to challenge the Department’s initial decision, and of those disputes that make it to the appeal stage, 61% are overturned in favour of the claimant.
Focus of the session
In this session the Committee discusses issues with the PIP application, assessment and appeals process. It hears about why would-be PIP claimants so often feel that they have been inaccurately assessed and why they struggle to obtain an accurate decision from the outset, including the potential role of contractors in this. It also considers whether there are any specific groups of claimants that are particularly likely to appeal against DWP decisions, and what the impact is on claimants of delays in obtaining an accurate assessment.