Personal Independence Payment
Personal Independence Payment (abbreviated to PIP and usually pronounced as one word) is a welfare benefit in the United Kingdom that is intended to help with the extra costs of living with a long-term health condition or a disability. The PIP Assessment Guide (Updated on 1 May 2016) states: 'It would not be practical for the assessment to take account of the impact of a health condition or impairment on all everyday activities, nor to seek to include all possible areas where extra costs may be generated.'
It is non-means-tested, non-contributory and tax-free; it is not linked to a person's ability to work and it is available equally to people in or out of work. It is not intended to be a substitute for a person's earnings, unlike Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or ESA's predecessor, Incapacity Benefit.
Eligibility for PIP is based upon the practical effects of a condition on a person's life, rather than the condition itself. It is not currently available to children; it can be claimed by adults under the State Pension age, and people already on the benefit will continue to receive it after they retire. PIP and the benefit it replaces are predominantly received by older people, because increasing age is the main risk factor for developing disabling diseases.
PIP was introduced by the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and began to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for new claims from 8 April 2013, by means of an initial pilot in selected areas of north-west and north-east England. A full roll-out across Great Britain was planned for October 2013. However, this roll-out was delayed - primarily because the main contractor, Atos, wanted to ensure that the process was as reliable as possible; also, the assessments took much longer than expected, and assessors were hard to recruit - and as a result ministers announced that the roll out would happen more gradually than originally planned.
Although PIP was expected to cut costs by 20% over the longer term, costs are now forecast to rise by £1billion to £15.4billion in 2015-16, partly due to a rise in mental health issues and learning disabilities.
Claims will usually but not always be started over the phone. Most people claiming PIP are required to undergo assessments to prove their eligibility for the benefit. The tests must be passed three months prior to claiming and claimants must be able to satisfy the requirements of the test for a period of at least nine months after their claim. Payments are varied according to the severity of disability as decided by the tests and relate to ability to carry out daily living activities and level mobility. Claimants are also required to undergo periodic re-assessments to ensure ongoing eligibility for the benefit; depending on the type of disability, a person may be given a short award of up to two years or longer PIP award which would last for up to five or ten years.
PIP is not available to children under sixteen and PIP claimants must apply before they turn sixty five years old as new PIP claims cannot be made after that age. DLA continues for children, and for existing recipients aged sixty four or over on 8 April 2013; other people currently receiving DLA will be asked to claim PIP instead at some point.
Responsibility for the tests has been outsourced by the DWP to two private companies, Atos Healthcare in the north of England, London, southern England and Scotland, and Capita Business Services Ltd in central England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Reaction and analysis
In April 2013 Iain Duncan Smith, the sponsor of the Welfare Reform Act, expressed his support for the changes to disability benefits brought about by the new law. He was critical of the older system of disability benefits which awarded an allowance to claimants with no further systematic checks to assess if the claimant's condition had improved or worsened. Duncan Smith stated that, by requiring claimants to undergo periodic assessments, the system could be targeted at those most in need whilst preventing payments being made to people who had recovered from a temporary disability.
The UK disability rights organisation Scope has been critical of PIP and, while it expressed support in principle for assessing claimants more carefully, took the view that the assessment criteria were flawed, would cause undue hardship to disabled people and were too strongly focused on cutting welfare budgets.
Prior to the introduction of PIP, work capability assessments carried out by the private contractor Atos Healthcare were subjected to critical scrutiny in Parliament following a number of controversial decisions in which disabled individuals were denied benefits and required to look for work, work they could not do due to their disability.
The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain produced a report about its members experiences of the test in September 2015. 1,780 participated. 42% of those who had a face-to-face assessment said the hidden symptoms of the condition had not been taken into account. More than a third said face-to-face assessments had caused their condition to relapse or deteriorate.
Daily living component
There are two components of PIP: daily living and mobility needs. Each component can be paid at standard or enhanced rates.
The PIP daily living component is paid at one of two rates: standard or enhanced. Individuals may be entitled to the daily living component if they need help with things like preparing or eating food, dressing and undressing, or making decisions about money.
|Daily living component||Weekly rate|
The PIP mobility component is also paid at one of two rates: standard or enhanced. Individuals may be entitled to the mobility component if they need help going out or moving around.
|Mobility component||Weekly rate|
PIP is usually awarded for a fixed period, after which the claimant will have to re-apply if necessary. The exception is for the minority of claimants for whom PIP is awarded ongoing as their situation is not expected to improve or get worse.
- Shorter term awards: Up to two years.
- Longer term awards: Up to ten years.
All awards, including ongoing awards, are subject to review at any time.
Transition from DLA
Recipients of DLA will continue to receive it until the Department for Work and Pensions invites them to apply for PIP.
Information for support organisations
A toolkit of information for support organisations is available. It contains copies for forms and leaflets, factsheets and guides.
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- Personal Independence Payment (PIP): What you'll get. Gov.uk. Retrieved on 19 March 2016.
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Gov.uk. Retrieved on 19 March 2016.
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- "Personal Independence Payment pages at dwp.gov.uk". Retrieved 22 November 2012.
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- "PIP Assessment Guide". Retrieved 30 July 2016.