The government’s decision to stop regular benefit reassessments for some people with “the most severe, lifelong conditions” shows that replacing disability living allowance (DLA) with personal independence payment (PIP) was a waste of time and money, it has been claimed.
Sarah Newton, the minister for disabled people, confirmed this week that claimants with such conditions who are awarded the highest level of support under PIP – if their needs are expected to stay the same or increase – will no longer be subjected to repeat assessments.
Instead, they will have to undergo a “light touch review” every 10 years.
The announcement confirms a suggestion made by the government in its response to a report on the disability benefit assessment regime by the Commons work and pensions committee earlier this year.
In that response, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) suggested it would change guidance to its civil servants to ensure that PIP claimants receiving “the highest level of support get an award duration that is appropriate to the condition and needs arising”.
Now Newton has confirmed that this guidance will be changed, with a new version to be published later this summer.
She said: “We’ve listened to feedback from organisations and the public, and this common-sense change will ensure that the right protections are in place while minimising any unnecessary stress or bureaucracy.
“The government will be working with stakeholders to design the light touch review process so that it adds value for both our claimants and the department – for example, by providing information on services available and ensuring that contact or bank details have not changed.”
Despite some claims in the media that this will mean all people with conditions such as Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis will no longer face PIP reassessments, this is unlikely to be the government’s intention.