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.
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 were forecast to rise by £1billion to £15.4billion in 2015-16, partly due to a rise in mental health issues and learning disabilities.
New rules were introduced in 2017 and many charities say disabled people will be left without support. The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) (comprising charities including Parkinson's UK, the MS Society and Mind) claimed about 160,000 people receiving PIP would be affected by proposed changes. Phil Reynolds of the consortium said, "Across the DBC we have had our helpline and advice services inundated by calls about PIP since it was introduced. Instead of supporting disabled people, the benefits system seems increasingly rigged against them. The whole system needs urgent improvement, in order to accurately assess the support they need. Disabled people cannot afford to wait." Charities that represent mental health and learning disability groups claim the changes do not recognise that the costs connected with those conditions are as severe as for other impairments.
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. 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, Independent Assessment Services (formerly known as Atos Healthcare) in the north of England, London, southern England and Scotland, and Capita Business Services Ltd in central England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
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.'
To qualify for PIP you must be between 16 and 64 and living in Great Britain and also:
- have had difficulties with daily living or getting around (or both) for at least 3 months
- expect these difficulties to continue for at least 9 months (unless you’re terminally ill with less than 6 months to live)
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. Iain 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 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 2018-19|
To qualify for the daily living part of PIP, you must need help more than half of the time 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
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 2018-19|
Over 50,000 claimants lost their cars because they can walk 20 metres even if they cannot walk 50 metres. Many claimants had the full benefit reinstated on appeal but they lost their cars while they were waiting to appeal and possibly lost their job as well.
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. Campaigners have expressed concern for patients with progressive, incurable conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease are made to attend reassessments though it is unlikely they will get better and they will probably only get worse. Carol Monaghan said she would challenge four cases of patients with multiple sclerosis being called for reassessment despite their illness worsening. “MS is a progressive condition. They’re never going to be any better than they are at the moment, so they should never be asked to go for a reassessment. Some of these people are still able to walk to a certain extent, so they get themselves in, just about, and then they’re being told, ‘You look fine,’” she said. Phil Reynolds of Parkinson's UK said about a quarter of British people with Parkinson’s lost some or all their benefit after reassessments, but got payments reinstated after appeal. “It’s absolutely crucial that the DWP looks again at the broken PIP assessment to ensure people with long-term conditions get the support they so desperately need, rather than rigging the system against them,” he said. Almost half multiple sclerosis patients claiming PIP must be reassessed inside two years, the MS Society claims. “We’re concerned about the number of people with MS being inappropriately reassessed, especially when we know assessments can cause stress and anxiety, and in some cases exacerbate MS symptoms. With more than 100,000 people living with MS in the UK, the PIP system needs to accurately reflect the realities of living with a fluctuating and progressive condition. Having a disability like MS is hard enough. People should be able to rely on support without fear of having it taken away,” said Laura Wetherly of the MS Society.
Transition from Disability Living Allowance
Recipients of DLA will continue to receive it until the Department for Work and Pensions invites them to apply for PIP.
Further information on DLA: Disability Living Allowance.
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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- "PIP Checker". GOV.UK. Government of the United Kingdom.
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- Charities' plea over Personal Independence Payments BBC
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- "Last-minute rush to avoid tough new test for disability benefit as Iain Duncan Smith praises reform of 'ridiculous' system". Daily Mail. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
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- "MS: Enough". MS Society. 14 September 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP): What you'll get. Gov.uk. Retrieved on 19 March 2016.
- Thousands have disability vehicles taken away BBC
- Stop PIP reassessments for patients with progressive diseases, campaigners say The Guardian
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Gov.uk. Retrieved on 19 March 2016.
- "DWP Quick Guide to PIP". Retrieved 4 February 2013.
- "Personal Independence Payment pages at dwp.gov.uk". Retrieved 22 November 2012.
- "DWP Toolkit for support organisations". Retrieved 4 February 2013.
- "Disability Rights UK - PIP" (PDF). Retrieved 22 November 2012.
- "PIP Assessment Guide". Retrieved 30 July 2016.