As the Government is this week awarding contracts to the private sector for reassessing disabled people for help with essential higher costs of living, the DBC has called for the potential assessment providers to sign up to a set of pledges to help deliver a process that is as fair as possible.
The Department for Work and Pensions has appointed companies to run a new assessment process to determine eligibility for the new ‘Personal Independence Payment‘ (PIP). PIP is being introduced as the Government abolishes Disability Living Allowance (DLA) which was introduced from 1992 to help disabled people with essential higher living costs. The change affects working age disabled people (16-64 years of age) from April 2013.
The new assessment process is a major concern for thousands of disabled people and will be used to determine access to PIP. DWP plans show that 500,000 fewer disabled people will be eligible for support.
The DBC is concerned that many disabled people will be stressed and fearful of the new process – as well as mistrustful given the overarching policy aim of reducing expenditure. We are asking the assessment providers to sign up to ten pledges that will help alleviate concerns and could establish greater trust in the new system.
Hayley Jordan, of the MS Society and co-chair of the DBC policy group, says:
“PIP will be a lifeline for disabled people and it is essential that this difficult process is managed well. We urge contractors to sign up to our proposed pledges to demonstrate a commitment to making the process as fair as it can be. Failure will result in tragedy and devastate the lives of disabled people.”
It is essential to build trust in the new assessment. The similar process used to access Employment and Support Allowance (ESA, the benefit for disabled people out of work) was introduced in 2008 but continues to draw intense criticism due to the high rate of inaccurate decisions, successful appeal rate (40%) and waste of restricted resources. Appeals to ESA decisions cost over £26 million in 2010/11; the DBC is keen that this level of wasted public expenditure is avoided.
Tom Pollard, of Mind, and co-chair of the DBC policy group, says:
“It is essential that every penny reaches the disabled people who are supposed to be accessing support and doesn’t get wasted on repetitive bureaucracy or avoidable appeals. We welcome all contractors signing up to our proposed pledges – and DWP must ensure all contractors meet high standards and that disabled people’s anxieties and fears of losing support are not heightened by procedural problems caused by any contractor.”