Thursday, 14 January 2016

Opportunity to influence - changes to PIP benefits, till 29th Jan


In the UK the Government pays a benefit to those who need help with extra costs as a result of long term ill health or a disability. It is called the Personal Independence Payment, or PIP for short. You can read here:

There are two parts to the payment, which is received every 4 weeks: the "daily living component" and the "mobility component". Both components come in "standard" and "enhanced" levels. You need to fill in an application to determine if you are eligible, which is determined by points" scored by answers to multiple choice assessment questions.

The website says "You must have a long-term health condition or disability and face difficulties with ‘daily living’ or getting around.... You may get the daily living component of PIP if you need help with things like:
  • preparing or eating food
  • washing, bathing and using the toilet
  • dressing and undressing
  • reading and communicating
  • managing your medicines or treatments
  • making decisions about money
  • engaging with other people
You may get the mobility component of PIP if you need help going out or moving around.

The Consultation:
The Government are seeking views on changing the way that "aids and appliances" are taken into account in assessing the daily living component. They are keen to hear views from all interested parties, especially disabled people and disability organisations. Events are arranged around the UK in January, or you can respond by post or e-mail until 29th January. The consultation document is here:
The document says that some applicants score all of their points through "aids and appliances".  Overall, about a third of all people who are awarded the daily living component score all their points through "aids and appliances". The definition of "aids and appliances" is becoming broader, and that some are not specialised equipment (for example a chair) or low cost.
The consultation asks your opinion comparing the current system with 5 broad options for reforming how aids and appliances are taken into consideration.  They welcome comments on:
  • receiving a regular, fixed monthly sum; 
  • budgeting on a monthly basis; 
  • having to save to purchase aids and appliances; and 
  • having no restrictions on how the benefit can be spent but potentially lower purchasing power. 

I summarise the five options as:
  1. Receiving a lump sum instead of a monthly payment
  2. Receiving a lower monthly rate than the standard rate
  3. Adding a requirement so that some points must come from things not related to aids and appliances
  4. Changing the definition of aids and appliances to exclude low cost/non-specialist equipment
  5. Reducing the number of points for aids and appliances answers to questions
There are questions on each option, and a final question asking for other ideas and comments. An annex to the consultation document gives the ten questions that comprise the assessment and the number of points for each of the multiple choice answers.

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