Disabled protesters outside the annual Conservative party conference. The Government has defended the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) against criticism that it penalising thousands of claimants by subjecting them to frequent reviews of their entitlements. (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty)
Thousands of disabled people with progressively worsening diseases are seeing their income from a key benefit slashed as they undergo more frequent reviews of their condition, campaigners warn today. Figures released by ministers show a sharp increase in the number of people with incurable conditions such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease who are undergoing reassessment for Personal Independence Allowance or PIP, which provides help with daily activities and mobility. 45 per cent increase Some 3,500 people suffering from progressive diseases were called in to have their eligibility reviewed between April and October last year – a 45 per cent increase compared to all of 2015-16, when 2,400 were recalled. Data released to Labour MP Madeleine Moon shows that the highest increase was among sufferers from rheumatoid arthritis with 2,000 cases reassessed in the first six months of the last financial year – an increase of two-thirds on the previous 12 months. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) insists the procedure is necessary to ensure that people get the right level of support under PIP, which is not means-tested or linked to the ability to work, and that the reviews can lead to increases in payments. But DWP figures show that while 40 per cent of reassessments carried out between 2013 and last October did indeed lead to an increase, a further 48 per cent of claimants either had their PIP payment decreased or removed altogether after it was ruled they were no longer eligible. ‘Rigged’ In the case of Parkinson’s sufferers, 27 per cent of claimants saw their payment slashed or removed as a result of reassessment while the same applied to 49 per cent of those with rheumatoid arthritis. The payments can only be restored if a claimant successfully appeals to a benefits tribunal.
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