PIP – new guidance on “safely” being able to do things

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 | information

Penny Mordaunt MP, Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, has, this month made some changes to the guidance for the DWP about how they decide whether someone can do something safely and whether they require supervison which will help quite a few disabled people to get the decisions (and benefit rates) they are entitled to. Here is what she said:

Today I am publishing an updated version of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Assessment Guide which provides guidance for Health Professionals carrying out PIP assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. The department routinely updates the Guide to further clarify the policy intent and to bring it in line with legislative requirements.

PIP contributes to the extra costs faced by people with disabilities and health conditions. It is a modern, dynamic benefit that was introduced to replace the outdated Disability Living Allowance (DLA) system. PIP is a fairer benefit, which takes a much wider look at the way an individual’s health condition or disability impacts them on a daily basis. Under PIP, 29 per cent of claimants are receiving the highest possible support, compared with just 15 per cent under DLA.

The updated guidance will reflect binding case law following an Upper Tribunal judgment handed down on 9th March 2017 on how DWP considers a claimant to be carrying out an activity safely and whether they need supervision to do so. This will increase entitlement for a number of both new and existing claimants, largely those with conditions such as epilepsy, which affect consciousness. The Department estimates approximately 10,000 claims will benefit by £70 – £90 per week in 2022/2023.

In the case of existing claimants the Department for Work and Pensions will undertake an exercise to go through all existing cases and identify anyone who may be entitled to more. We will then write to those people affected and all payments will be backdated to the date of the change in case law.

Alongside these changes, we have brought the Guide in line with the Social Security (Personal Independent Payment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 and have made amendments to descriptors within activity 3 (managing therapy or monitoring a health condition) and mobility activity 1 (planning and following a journey) to reflect this. We are making these changes to clarify the original policy intent.

Also, following consultation with stakeholders, and to more clearly communicate existing case law, the guidance has also been changed to add clarity for Health Professionals around assessing claimants with sensory difficulties. These changes will ensure that the needs of those with sensory difficulties are properly taken into account within activity 9 (engaging with others face to face) and mobility activity 1 (planning and following a journey).

The Department has also made changes to mobility activity 1 to reflect the challenges may be faced by those with sensory difficulties in the event of disruptions to a journey. Finally, Activities 7 (communicating verbally) and 9 (engaging with others face to face) have now been clarified to re-iterate the original policy intent that the two activities are not mutually exclusive, these changes will benefit a number of affected individuals.

You can see this statement on the Parliament website here>>
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS216

This change comes as a result of caselaw. The decision by the Upper Tribunal in CPIP/1599/2016 which can be found here>>

The case is about someone with epilepsy, and should help people who still have unpredictable seizures despite medication.

The Judges state (para. 56):

An assessment that an activity cannot be carried out safely does not require that the occurrence of harm is “more
likely than not”. In assessing whether a person can carry out an activity safely, a tribunal must consider whether there is a real possibility that cannot be ignored of harm occurring, having regard to the nature and gravity of the feared harm in the
particular case. It follows that both the likelihood of the harm occurring and the severity of the consequences are relevant. The same approach applies to the assessment of a need for supervision.

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