Government consultation on aids and appliances for PIP
Consultation launched on whether aids and appliances should be taken into consideration for PIP
Published on 12th January 2016
The government is seeking views on whether the way that aids and appliances are taken into account when determining entitlement to the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment should be changed.
The proportion of people awarded the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment has almost tripled since aids and appliances have been taken into consideration.
While just 11 per cent of people in April 2014 were awarded PIP because of aids and appliances, this figure rose to 35 per cent in September 2015.
In April 2013, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) began replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for claimants of working age. Like DLA, PIP is intended to provide a contribution towards the extra costs caused by long-term health conditions and disabilities. It is not an income replacement benefit. It is not means tested, contributory or taxable and is payable to people who are both in and out of work.
Most people have a face-to-face consultation with an independent health professional to determine whether they are eligible for PIP. The assessment looks at an individual’s ability to complete ten daily living activities and two mobility activities.
If PIP is not delivering the original policy intent, DWP will consider the case for change
Unlike DLA, PIP takes into account the individual’s need to use aids and appliances to complete the activities assessed. For most activities, the use of an aid or appliance scores two points, the lowest level, reflecting that many aids and appliances are widely available and relatively low cost.
However, the first review of PIP assessment suggested the policy was not being used as intended. DWP doctors therefore reviewed a sample of 105 cases were claimants scored all, or the majority, of their points due to aids and appliances, to assess the extent to which the award may reflect extra costs.
The results show that significant numbers of people who are likely to have low or minimal additional costs are being awarded the daily living component of the benefit solely because they may benefit from aids and appliances across a number of the activities, despite the relatively low point score awarded for them.
Recent judicial decisions have also broadened the scope of aids and appliances to include articles such as beds and chairs, which the government says is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of extra costs.
Going forward, the government has pledged to regularly assess PIP to ensure that it is delivering the policy intent of a modern, objective, and financially sustainable benefit that is focused on those with the greatest needs. If PIP is not delivering the original policy intent, DWP will consider the case for change, the consultation states.
“If we decide to make any changes to the way in which aids and appliances are used to determine entitlement to the daily living component, anyone who has been awarded points for needing aids and appliances, as set out in their decision letter, could be affected,” said the consultation. “However, none of the five reform options we have set out would apply to current claimants until the changes come into effect and they are eligible for review, or report a change of circumstances.”
The government has outlined five options, should changes be introduced.
1) A lump sum payment for claimants who meet or exceed the eligibility point threshold for the daily living component but score all of their points from aids and appliances. The value of this lump sum could be less than the cumulative value of the equivalent monthly payments. It could be discretionary and could be restricted, for example through the use of vouchers.
2) A monthly payment below the equivalent weekly rate for claimants who meet or exceed the eligibility point threshold for the daily living component, at either rate, but score all of their points from aids and appliances.
3) A new condition of entitlement that claimants must score some points from a descriptor that does not relate to aids and appliances. This would mean claimants would not be entitled to the daily living component if they scored all of their points from aids and appliances irrespective of whether they met or exceeded the point threshold for either rate.
4) To change the definition of aids and appliances in relation to the relevant daily living activities to exclude items that are a poor indicator of additional cost and need. These items could be distinguished by reference to whether they are available at low or no cost and/or whether they are commonly used by non-disabled people for the same purpose.
5) Halving the number of points awarded from 2 to 1 for the use of aids and appliances in relation to some or all daily living activities. Claimants scoring at least some of their points from aids and appliances could lose entitlement to their current award rate. Claimants scoring all of their points from other descriptors would be paid at the relevant weekly rate, as now.
The consultation will run for from 10 December 2015 until 29 January 2016.
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