Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a benefit for people aged between 16 and 64 who, because of a long-term illness or disability, may need help with daily activities or getting around. PIP has replaced Disability Living Allowance for anyone making a new claim and people currently on DLA are being transferred across to PIP.
You may have heard, the Government has recently been advised (by two tribunals) to cover a broader spectrum of claimants under the PIP benefit. In reality, this would mean that those with psychological problems including dementia and schizophrenia would be eligible for the benefit.
However, last Thursday, whilst people were fixated on two important by-elections, the Government used a statutory instrument to amend the PIP legislation- reversing the decision of the tribunals. You can read Disability Minister, Penny Mordaunt’s written statement here.
The head of Theresa May’s policy unit then justified the move by claiming disability benefits should go to “really disabled people” rather than those who are “taking pills at home, who suffer from anxiety”.
This is an unprecedented attempt to subvert an independent tribunal judgment, made worse by crass and insensitive comments from a senior Government official. Given the Prime Minister’s personal commitment to mental health issues, I am very disappointed that she has decided to make distinctions between physical and mental health in this way.
This benefit cut seriously affects 160,000 vulnerable people. My colleagues and I will continue to pressure the Government to reverse this position both in the Lords and through the Budget process in the House of Commons.
You may remember last year that the then Chancellor, George Osborne, tried to slash the PIP budget by £1.2 billion. Pressure from the Opposition, disability groups and the general public caused a backtrack. If we can mount the same kind of pressure, we can do so again.