{jcomments on}19 May 2011

The main purpose of  replacing DLA with PIP is to reduce the cost of the benefit by 20% by making the criteria more difficult to meet.  In this extract from the Benefits and Work PIP guide, based on what we know so far about PIP, we look at who is most likely to lose out when they are moved from DLA to PIP.  But do bear in mind that the current activities and descriptors are draft ones only, they may change before they are finalised.

Moving around indoors
If your award is based in a large part on difficulties you have with moving around indoors then it may be under threat.

There is little, if any, reference to moving around indoors in the PIP daily living activities.  It would appear that mobility issues will only score points in relation to the mobility component, which according to DWP guidance looks at your ability to move around outdoors. 

The current DLA claim pack has a section on ‘Moving around indoors’ which covers such issues as difficulties walking around, using stairs, getting in and out of a chair and transferring from a wheelchair.

PIP daily living activities, on the other hand, seem to exclude such things as problems with using stairs or with moving around generally. For example, the definition of ‘toilet needs’ appears to be so tightly drawn that it excludes any consideration of whether a claimant needs help getting to and from the toilet, although problems getting on and off the toilet will be taken into account.

In addition, transferring from one seated position to another is listed under mobility for PIP rather than being considered as a daily living activity.

Night-time needs

Claimants who get the middle rate of the care component of DLA for night-time needs only may struggle to get an award of PIP.

Under DLA, care needs that are too few or brief to attract an award in the day may get an award of the middle rate of the care component if they take place at night. Under PIP no distinction is made between day and night needs.  In fact, night is not mentioned in any of the daily living activities.

Nor is there any mention of help needed with getting into bed or getting out of bed or with help needed when you are in bed in the  PIP daily living activities.


There is little reference to supervision needs under PIP.  The guidance states that there is a requirement that activities can be carried out safely.  So, if you need someone to keep you safe when cooking a meal, for example, this will be taken into account. 

But, under DLA a claimant who has severe epilepsy, for example, may get an award because they need supervision in case they have a seizure.  People who are prone to falling indoors because of Parkinson’s may get an award of the middle or higher rate of the care component of DLA. Similarly, someone who may be a danger to themselves or other people because of a mental health condition might, under DLA, get an award of the middle or higher rate of the care component. 

Under PIP there is no award whatsoever specifically for supervision needs.  Instead, it looks like claimants will need to show how they are a danger to themselves or other people in relation to specific activities, such as cooking, managing medication and communicating in order to try to get an award of the daily living component.

If your award of DLA  is based in a large part on the help that you need with managing medication or monitoring your health condition then it is likely to be more difficult for you to get an award of  PIP.  This is because, astonishingly, taking medication and help with therapy are the only two activities that are classed as ‘low scoring’. 

This means that, for example, someone who needs help with dressing can score more points for that activity than someone who needs help with taking vital medication or with life-preserving therapy.

Problems with communication will still potentially attract an award under PIP.  But it seems that the criteria will be very much more strict.  The very lowest points scoring descriptor is 9(b) which is ‘Can communicate only with communication support’.  The definition given of ‘communication support’ is:

 ‘either support from a person trained to communicate with people with limited communication abilities - for example, lip speakers - or from appropriate aids or appliances.’

So, claimants who need help with communication from friends and family who are not ‘trained’  are unlikely to score points unless their problems with communication are so severe that they cause such things as uncontrollable distress or uncontrollable behaviour.

Communication is listed as a high scoring activity, but there must still be a strong suspicion that simply being deaf and needing trained support to communicate will not, on its own, be sufficient to attract an award of PIP.

Social and leisure

In relation to DLA it was accepted, after hard fought legal battles, that disabled people have a right to enjoy an ordinary life, which includes social and leisure activities, in the same way as people who are not disabled.

In the PIP scoring system, there is no mention whatsoever of help needed with social and leisure activities.  It seems that help with anything other than the most basic of human activities will not be relevant when scoring points for PIP.

Cooking a main meal
The’ main meal’ or ‘cooking’ test is an important route to the lower rate of the care component of DLA for many thousands of sick and disabled people. 

PIP has a similar ‘Preparing and cooking’ activity.  It also has a separate ‘Planning and buying food and drink’ activity which looks at your ability to work out what food and drink you need, to plan your  budget and to buy things, but not to actually physically get to and move around in a shop.  Though it should be noted that you will only score points if you need ‘continual’ prompting or assistance with planning or with buying.

However, the PIP cooking test has some important differences from DLA.  For example, a ‘simple meal’ can be made using ‘fresh or frozen ingredients’ which may mean, regardless of the DWP guidance, that the decision maker need not take into account problems with peeling and chopping.

The higher scoring descriptors also require the claimant to show that they need ‘continual’ prompting or assistance with either preparing or cooking a meal, not just help with some parts of the activity.  This  is very different from DLA, where showing that there is any one part of the activity that you cannot manage without help is sufficient to get an award.

The very highest scoring cooking descriptors require you to be unable to cook using a microwave without continual help or to be unable to prepare even a simple uncooked snack  without continual help.

Until we know much more about the points scoring system we won’t know whether even the highest scoring descriptor in this activity would lead to an award of PIP. But what is clear is that many people who currently pass the main meal test will score few, if any points, under the PIP test.

It will not be possible to predict who may lose out in relation to mobility until the points system has been published.  However, it is worth noting that in relation to the ‘Planning and following a journey’ activity, your ability to plan and follow a journey by car, bus or train will be taken into account – not just your ability to walk outdoors.

In relation to moving around, to score the higher points you will need either to be unable to propel your manual wheelchair 50 metres or more, be reliant on a powered wheelchair, be unable to move at all or be unable to transfer.  Simply being unable to walk 50 metres or more with the aid of a walking stick or frame, for example, is only (d) out of descriptors (a)-(g), with (g) being the highest scoring descriptor.  There is a real possibility then, that the level of mobility problems that currently attracts an award of higher rate mobility for DLA will be insufficient for an award of the enhanced rate of the mobility component of PIP.

Please check back for updates on this issue as more details of the scoring system are published by the DWP.  In the meantime, you can download our 17 page guide to the draft PIP assessment procedure from this page.  The guide includes details of how to take part in the DWP’s consultation on the PIP assessment criteria.
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