NAWRA condemns backdoor cuts to PIP

NAWRA issued the following press release on Friday 3rd March 2017:

The government has announced shock plans to restrict entitlement to the disability benefit, Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers (NAWRA) strongly refutes the claims made by government that two recent court decisions (1) in any way ‘extend’ or ‘broaden’ the meaning of the PIP regulations as claimed by government. In fact the judges simply seek to confirm the original policy intent of the DWP at the time the regulations were made. (2)

The government’s amendments seek to restrict the ability for people with mental health problems to receive help with getting around. Yet the government response to the ‘Personal Independence Payment: assessment thresholds and consultation’ of January 2012 (3) states in relation to Mobility Activity 1 (help needed with planning and following a journey) –

6.14 Concern was raised that the activity takes insufficient account of the impact of mental health conditions on mobility. We do not consider this the case. Individuals could potentially score in a number of descriptors in the activity if they cannot go outside to commence journeys because of their condition or need prompting or another person to accompany them to make a journey.

The government’s intention was clearly that Mobility Activity 1 would apply in its entirety to people with mental health problems and the judges have merely confirmed this position – there has been no change.

NAWRA asserts that the PIP amendments, both to the mobility descriptors and the daily living descriptors, amount to a substantial cut and a change from the original policy intention.

Chair of NAWRA, Alan Markey said –

‘It is not, as Theresa May has claimed, a change to ‘restore the original intention’ – it is a change to substantially move the goal posts. It is also a falsehood to say current claimants will not be affected – those currently in receipt of PIP are at risk of seeing a cut in their benefit when they are reassessed.’

Notes to editor –

  1. [2016] UKUT 531 (AAC) and [2016] UKUT 530 (AAC) – decisions of the Upper Tribunal of the Social Security Administrative Appeals Chamber
  2. This was clearly shown in the government responses to consultations at that time.
  3. As quoted at paragraph 33 of [2016] UKUT 531 (AAC)