In November 2017, Community submitted evidence to the Commons work and pensions select committee’s Personal Independence Payment and Employment and Support Allowance assessments inquiry, following a survey with its National League of the Blind and Disabled (NLBD) members.
There were over 4,000 responses to the select committee’s inquiry, which included harrowing accounts of individual experiences of the PIP or ESA system, calling for urgent change.
The union found many of its members have experienced the one-to-one assessments, and were hopeful its recommendations would improve the assessment process.
The government has now published its response to the work and pensions select committee’s two reports on PIP and ESA Assessments.
A number of Community’s recommendations were accepted by the government, including recording assessments, redesigning the assessment forms and considering enabling companions to attend assessments. However, the government rejected the proposal that assessment reports should be shared with claimants by default. It also declined to audit arrangements for home visits to claimants.
Robert Mooney, Chair of the NLBD said:
“Personal Independence Payments (PIP) are a lifeline for disabled people to help them meet the extra cost incurred by having a disability.
“Recording the PIP assessments is a welcome step forward for our members, and one we have consistently called for Government to act on.
“We’re extremely disappointed the Government has rejected providing claimants with the assessments by default, as well as the possibility of home visits for disabled people.
“The application process as it stands can leave disabled people feeling degraded, insulted and in some cases suicidal.
“The fact that 60% of claimants who appeal their case and rightfully succeed must raise alarm bells for the Government that the system is failing disabled people and urgently needs changing.
“The system should be providing support and stability for people, not increasing the lack of trust and confidence amongst claimants and attacking our members’ dignity. The Government needs to address why they are willing to audit selected parts of the assessments, and not the whole system.
“We will keep campaigning for change to the assessments, to improve the lives of disabled people, and to restore trust and confidence in a broken system.”
The work and pensions select committee said the government’s response ‘falls short in several areas’. Frank Field, Labour MP and chair of the select committee said:
“We will use House of Commons debates to push the government to go further in support of disabled people.”
The select committee will continue to work on proposed changes to PIP and ESA.