There’s a report in the i this morning about a letter sent by Frank Field MP to David Gauke, the Work and Pensions Secretary, detailing some of the hardship and problems that have been created in the benefits system. Field calls for a thoroughgoing review of current benefits, which I’d fully support. But one of the points in the article is a mistake, almost certainly made by the newspaper reporter:
He backed an urgent review of the assessment system for evaluating PIP claims amid frequent complaints that it was too rigid to assess accurately claimants’ ability to work.
Presumably this is meant to refer to the assessment for Employment and Support Allowance. Personal Independence Payment, unlike ESA, is not an out-of-work benefit; it’s a general income supplement for people with serious disabilities, supposedly partly intended to cover extra costs, and it is paid regardless of whether or not the person is working or able to work. But I have come across cases, and I’m sure that Frank Field will have done as well, where PIP assessors have wrongly and inappropriately been asking people about work. It’s the wrong test for this particular benefit.
From DWP research, many people never understood what they were claiming when they applied for Disability Living Allowance, and now it’s being replaced by PIP it’s probably true that they don’t really understand that either. Part of a review should be an attempt to get benefits that make sense to the people who administer them and to the people who get them.