Tory myths about PIP
The rules around Personal Independence Payments (PIP), which help with the extra costs of a long-term health condition or disability, will change today.
Disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people as a result of additional associated costs, and PIP is a key source of income to prevent real hardship. Disability charity Scope has estimated that these additional costs amount to approximately £550 a month.
The Government says it is making these changes because two court judgements have made access to PIP – to people with debilitating mental health conditions or cognitive impairment which means they need support to navigate a journey – beyond what they had originally intended. This contradicts their response to their 2012 consultation on the new PIP assessment process and the arguments they made in a 2015 court case, where they argued that “psychological distress” should be included in PIP assessments.
Yesterday the Government back tracked on their tax hikes for the self-employed in response to the uproar from small businesses. Today they should listen to calls from more than 30 disability charities who have written to ministers urging them not to restrict access to PIP. The charities have echoed Labour’s calls that people will be left without vital financial support if these draconian changes go ahead.
In addition they should listen to their own Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC), who, like the charities and disabled people’s organisations, they failed to consult prior to introducing these changes. In a letter to the Minister for Disabled People this week, SSAC recommended that there should be wider engagement prior to any changes and that proposals should be tested before implemented.
Labour has been fighting these regulations since they were sneaked out at the end of February. The changes will see over 160,000 disabled people and people with chronic mental health conditions not be able to access the full support they are entitled to – an effective cut worth £3.7bn. For a disabled person this means the difference between £21.80 and £57.45 a week.
We need to see people with mental health conditions being treated fairly and being properly supported to live full and independent lives. The proposed changes would create a legal distinction between mental health problems and other kinds of impairments when it comes to assessments. So much for parity of esteem.
The Government has fallen well short of fulfilling their commitment here. Evidence from the mental health charity, MIND, shows that 55% of people with mental health conditions transferring from Disability Living Allowance to PIP receive less support or no support at all. In addition the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions claimed that the new regulations meant people with a mental health condition could receive the enhanced PIP mobility rate when the new PIP assessment guidelines make it absolutely clear that they cannot!
On the day when Scope published analysis revealing that 89% of PIP Mandatory Reconsiderations or Appeals were successful, the Tories were still trying to peddle the myth that everything is fine with PIP.
The new PIP regulations is one of a series of cuts in social security support since 2010, with more due in April. The results have been devastating to disabled people, with debt, poverty and failing health. For too many it has been too much and they have given up on life, as life seems to have given up on them.
I do not believe that, given the choice, the British public would chose cuts in Corporation Tax (which is lowest in the G7) over pushing disabled people into destitution or worse.
The Government needs to know that enough is enough. No more cuts in support to disabled people. So please join us, Disabled People’s Organisations, activists and charities to campaign against these changes. Tell your family, your friends, your neighbours and get as many people as possible to lobby their MPs, write to the Prime Minister and sign the petition calling on the new regulations not to be implemented.
Stand with Labour, stand with disabled people. Enough is enough.