A request that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) end benefit award reviews for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Support Allowance claimants to Employment (ESA) with long-term illnesses has reached nearly 30,000 signatures.
Posted on the official website of the Parliament of Petitions by John H Paternoster, the ‘Final Revisions of the PIP and ESA Awards for People with Lifelong Illnesses’, will close on Friday 28th January – some 70,000 signatures short of the 100,000 needed that they would see the issue considered for debate in Parliament.
The petition statement reads: “People with a lifelong illness should not be subject to periodic eligibility reviews for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). People with lifelong conditions shouldn’t have to prove they’re still sick every two years.”
Mr. Paternoster continues, “I and others like me have received PIP and ESA for lifelong conditions, but we have to undergo reviews for both benefits even though these conditions are lifelong!
“These reviews mean that people like myself are subjected to repeated interviews with people who often have no idea of the conditions we suffer from, and in many cases the stress of these reviews causes a flare-up and worsens the condition.
“These reviews are unnecessary and must stop!”
The petition has 20,908 signatures and received a response from the UK Government in September 2021, when it reached 10,000 votes of support.
The DWP responded: “We understand that there are people with lifelong, serious health conditions that will not get better and want to try a streamlined process that does not require them to take a health assessment.
“The Department for Work and Pensions uses functional assessments to help determine entitlement to a number of benefits, including the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and, for those who apply because they have a disability or health condition that affects your ability to work, Universal Credit (UC).
“There is strong evidence that work is good for physical and mental well-being and that being out of work can contribute to poorer health. We want to make sure that people who can work are supported to do so.
“The Work Ability Assessment (WCA) was designed to ensure that people receive the right financial support and the right job-related support. Reassessments are important to account for changes in how a person’s health condition or disability affects their ability to work over time.”
He continued: “We use a separate assessment to determine PIP eligibility. Unlike UC and ESA, PIP is intended to help people with the additional costs of a disability or long-term health condition. PIP is paid regardless of income or savings. Once someone has been awarded PIP, which can be paid at one of eight rates, that award will be reviewed.
“PIP reviews are a key part of the benefit to ensure that awards remain correct where needs may change (even as needs increase and the award may need to increase) and that we maintain contact with the individual, both of which were missing in PIP. predecessor Disability Living Allowance.
“The length of an award is based on the circumstances of each individual and can range from nine months to an ongoing award, with a slight revision after 10 years.”
The long and detailed answer goes on to explain that changes have been made to reduce the number of “unnecessary re-evaluations”, especially for those claiming ESAs.
The DWP added: “We have also made changes to help reduce the frequency of repeat screenings that some people are required to take in PIP.
“We have ensured that people receiving the highest level of support whose needs will not improve, and most people over state pension age, receive a continued PIP award with a ‘light touch’ review to the 10 years.
“Continuous awards can be applied to any level or combination of award outcomes, as long as the individual’s needs are unlikely to change. A review may take place sooner if a person’s needs change.”
You can sign the petition or read the DWP’s full response here.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.