Nearly half of all Personal Independence Payments (PIP) claimants had their money cut or halted last year due to ongoing “planned reviews” which constantly reassess their entitlement.
Disability News Service obtained unpublished figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) showing that the number of PIP claimants who had their payments reduced after a review of their entitlement rose from less than 10% in 2014 to nearly 20% in 2016.
The proportion who lost their PIP completely after a planned review increased from 13% in 2014 to nearly 25%, or one in four of all reviews, in 2016.
It means that nearly half (45%) of PIP claimants who had a planned review of their award in 2016 either saw it cut or lost it entirely.
Everyone on disability living allowance (DLA) is migrating to the PIP system which involves a series of initial assessments to confirm eligibility.
However even if a claimant initially qualifies for PIP, the new regime of reviews means they constantly fear having their payments cuts or, worse, halted.
The DWP describes a PIP review as “an opportunity to look at entitlement at set intervals to ensure the claimant continues to get the right amount.”
As PIP is mostly aimed at people with long-term conditions, most of which do not improve, campaigners say they it is unlikely such a high proportion of claimants’ conditions are improving within a few years.
Disabled researcher Stef Benstead, from the Spartacus Network – a group of group of disabled and chronically ill camapigners – said: “I think any change made, whether to guidelines or training or legislation, should be publicised, so sick and disabled people know what they’re facing.
“The government will probably argue that it is improving the accuracy of assessments.
“But its arguments regarding the mobility threshold, aids and appliances, and now on mental health, show that it has no evidence that people are getting more help than they need, and plenty of evidence that people are getting less help than they need.
“It’s disturbing that the government plays with benefit assessments in this way without any scrutiny, justification or decent evidence.