Emma Hardy, the MP for Hull West and Hessle, has called on the Government to reform the assessment process for Personal Independence Payments to better support those with less visible conditions.
In her speech, given in a Westminster Hall debate on Wednesday 31st January 2018, Emma highlighted issues faced in the PIP process by people with epilepsy.
Emma called on the government to adopt the following measures straight away:
- Make sure that only those assessors who have received training on a condition are allowed to make decisions on that condition.
- Increase the timeframe for providing evidence from 1 month to 8 weeks to make it easier for an applicant’s doctor to provide supporting evidence.
- Commit to a full review of the ‘repeatedly and safely’ requirements and issue guidance to ensure it is being applied correctly for people with less visible conditions.
Epilepsy Action says that 9 out of 10 people with epilepsy felt that the government decision maker didn’t understand their condition. They have raised concerns that the assessment form, descriptors and face-to-face assessments are not set up in a way that accurately reflects the fluctuating nature of epilepsy.
3 out of 5 people with epilepsy who had previously received Disability Living Allowance had their award decreased or disallowed when they were reassessed for PIP. In raw numbers, this is 18,000 people, 20% higher than for any other condition. In Hull West and Hessle, 1800 people have applied for PIP since 2013, of which 1000 have had their award reduced.
Commenting after the debate, Emma said:
“The Government set up the Personal Independence Payment to provide independence to those with long term health conditions.
“Yet despite this, the stress that the process causes can make people’s illnesses worse, too many applications are judged by people with no medical training and PIP’s points based system leaves too many people with less visible conditions to fall through the gaps.
According to Epilepsy Action, the number one reason given for a claimant not taking their case further was the stress of going through the appeal. Can you imagine having to make that decision? Choosing, on the one hand to go through an arduous trial of your condition or, on the other, to give up the money that has given you independence and quality of life? Where do you even start with a decision like that?
I am concerned that the departments previous announcement by the department around supervision and safety, which is the change that could potentially have the most impact for people with epilepsy, is in danger of being neglected.
“In short, on the question of providing quality of life and independence, PIP has so far categorically failed and needs to be reformed. I hope that the Government will agree with the suggestions I have made and take the first steps to making the PIP assessment system fairer.”