Emma Hardy, the MP for Hull West and Hessle, has slammed the government for making the application process too complicated and called it an attack on disabled people.
Speaking in the House of Commons during questions to the Work and Pensions Secretary, Emma raised concerns expressed to her by a number of constituents about the difficulty of the application process for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
The application forms are lengthy and often very difficult to understand, especially without expert support offered by an organisation like Citizens Advice or Welfare Rights, and the assessments in each can be extremely stressful to applicants.
This is especially concerning considering that such benefits are exclusively applied for by individuals that are experiencing varying degrees of physical or mental ill-health and in some cases, both.
There is also a significant overlap of information between ESA and PIP applications and, while not every claimant will be entitled to both benefits, significant numbers will be.
To save them the stress of completing two incomprehensible forms and going through a highly stressful application process twice, Emma has called on the government to make the forms easier to understand and allow claimants to be considered for both benefits from the same application form.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is for people who have an illness, health condition or disability that makes it difficult or impossible to work. There are 2 types of ESA – called ‘contribution-based’ and ‘income-related’. You can be eligible for either, or both at the same time.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is extra money to help you with everyday life if you’ve an illness, disability or mental health condition. You can get it on top of Employment and Support Allowance or other benefits. Your income, savings, and whether you’re working or not don’t affect your eligibility.
The latest available figures show that the number of PIP claimants in Hull West and Hessle is 2920 while the number of ESA claimants is 5560.
Commenting after the question, Emma said “Applying for PIP and ESA is an exceptionally difficult and stressful thing to do, undertaken almost exclusively by those who are among the most vulnerable in our society. The fact that the forms for both benefits are exceptionally complicated, that expert help is not always available and that the assessment process following a claim is unduly stressful only add to the hardship for disabled people. It is almost as if this government wants to make claims unnecessarily complicated and difficult to process.
“The Labour Party invented the welfare system to look after those with genuine need but, under this Conservative government, the system attacks disabled people and is not fit for purpose. I asked the Minister today to look at how the application form can be made simpler and how changes can be made to make sure that the large number of claimants who are eligible for both ESA and PIP don’t have to go through the same process twice. I will continue to press the government to make sure these changes are made and disabled people are put back at the centre of our welfare system.”