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Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Assessment First Independent Review – Citizens Advice response

12 September 2014

The Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) network is the largest independent network of free advice centres in England and Wales. In 2013/14, we advised 2 million people on 5.5 million issues, through 319 individual bureaux providing advice from over 4,030 locations, face-to-face, online and on the phone.

Citizens Advice supports action to enable and empower disabled people to lead independent and active lives. It is therefore vital to identify and meet needs arising from the effects of health conditions, impairments and disabilities. This is why we support the underlying policy rationale – based on the ‘social model of disability’ – for moving from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to PIP; namely that help toward extra costs because of a long term ill-health condition or disability should be based on how a person’s condition affects them, not the condition they have. We also agree with the overarching policy intention to simplify the welfare system and make work pay. However, despite its intentions PIP is not yet fit for purpose. We have seen serious delays in the end-to-end process of claiming PIP, and real difficulties with navigating the claims process since the benefit was introduced. These need to be urgently addressed.

Between June 2014 and when the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was introduced in April 2013, 77, 039 people have sought advice about 154, 802 issues with PIP from Citizens Advice Bureaux across England and Wales, including eligibility, making and managing a claim, face-to-face assessments and challenging decisions. Over the same time-frame 218, 900 people accessed online advice about PIP from our website AdviceGuide, including who can get PIP, claiming the benefit, and assessment. The volume of advice sought from bureaux on PIP has steadily increased during this period. Between April and June this year, PIP made up 11% of all benefit issues brought to bureaux by clients; it is currently the second most common issue people are facing with benefits, after Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

This submission presents evidence, including case studies and statistics from Citizens Advice Bureaux across England and Wales and web analytics data on people’s access to information on PIP via our online advice website AdviceGuide. In it we make core recommendations for the PIP claims process.