With the move from Disability Living Allowance to the Personal Independence Payment expected to result in an estimated 20% cut in expenditure, many members and supporters of ENABLE Scotland are very concerned about how this change might impact on them. And at the moment, a lot of the fear is in the unknown.
Although the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is still a very new benefit the Department for Work and Pensions have released some figures which give us an idea of how things are going so far.
The first noticeable issue is that it would appear to be taking a very long time to reach a decision on claims.
As of December 2013 the DWP had only made decisions on 1 in 5 of the claims made. These statistics would appear to fit with the experience of advice agencies throughout the UK who are reporting concerns that decisions are not being made for significant periods of time.
The second noticeable feature of the statistics is that from June 2013 to December 2013 there appears to be a marked decrease in the percentage of successful claims where the claim does not involve a terminal illness.
Initially, 88% of claims to PIP were resulting in an award but by December 2013 this had fallen to 50%.
So what does all of this mean for claimants?
Whilst the fact that the percentage of successful claims dropped significantly is concerning, it is perhaps too early to draw concrete conclusions from this.
The figures available are for a short time period and we do not yet know how many decisions will be overturned at appeal. What is concerning, however, is the fact that there are significant delays in arriving at decisions.
Delays in decision making will not only hold up the payment of much needed benefit to the disabled person but will also delay entitlement to benefits for carers.
This is because the disabled person will not be in receipt of a "qualifying benefit" which will allow their carer to access benefits.
Those already in receipt of DLA are also at risk as delays in issuing decisions could mean that their DLA entitlement ends before a decision on their PIP claim is made.
Any gaps in entitlement could result in claimants other benefits being reduced as many recipients receive additional money in other means tested benefits which depend on their entitlement to DLA.
Carers Allowance will also stop for the carers of those transferring over where there is a gap in entitlement.
One benefit which won’t be affected if there is a gap in entitlement pending a PIP decision is Housing Benefit. Legislation has been amended to allow DLA related premiums in Housing Benefit to continue until a decision on the claimant’s PIP claim has been made.
It is important to note that this exception will only apply to those who had DLA entitlement and are being moved over to PIP and not to those who are making a brand new claim.
Should you be in the position where a delay in PIP decision making means that you have a gap in entitlement then it is strongly recommended that you advise any other departments of the DWP that make benefit payments to you.
This also the case for parents of disabled children who are in receipt of increased tax credits due to their child’s entitlement to DLA. Any parents in these circumstances should contact HMRC.