The Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) has urged the government to make transitional payments to the half a million claimants who are set to lose their disability living allowance under the transfer to personal independence payments.

SSAC has made a number of recommendations in its response to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) consultation on the assessment thresholds for personal independence payment (PIP).

It recommends that given the anticipated caseload for PIP by 2015/16 will be about 500,000 less than it would have been under disability living allowance (DLA), the government should consider transitional protection for claimants who lose entitlement during the migration process. The Committee draw particular attention to those claimants who will lose the low rate care component of DLA but who will still have the same additional costs to meet.

The Committee highlights the difficulties of assessing claimants with fluctuating conditions when using an “​arithmetical approach”​ and recommends that the effect and extent of a particular condition be considered as well as the amount of time the condition is debilitating. It also suggests that the DWP look at ways of keeping in touch with claimants with progressive conditions who do not qualify for PIP on their initial claim.

Many definitions are contained in guidance rather than regulations and the Committee recommends definitions for terms such as pain and discomfort, and for descriptors such as “​safely”​, “​timely”​, “​repeated​ly”​, and “​reliably​”​ should all be contained in regulations rather than guidance.

A number of points are raised by the Committee in relation to mental ill-health including the fact that many claimants with mental health problems are likely to be excluded from PIP. Similarly the Committee looks at moving around and makes a number of recommendations in relation to descriptors C, D, and E.

In terms of its implementation the Committee recommends a similar review process for PIP as has been carried out for employment and support allowance (ESA). Significantly it refers to instances where ESA decisions have been used by decision makers when reaching decisions on claims for DLA. The Committee urges the DWP not to do this, and to assess claims for PIP independently of decisions made in respect of claims for ESA.

In its conclusion the Committee acknowledges that work still needs to be done on PIP to ensure it “​works as intended.”​

The response published on 3 May 2012 can be found on the SSAC website.


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