Disability activists and others have raised concerns that the government will be reassessing all 1.6 million PIP (Personal Independence Payment) claimants – a process expected to take around four years to complete – as a result of Esther McVey’s concession of a court judgment that the Dept of Work and Pensions (DWP) was unfairly discriminating against claimants with mental health issues.
As not all claimants have mental health issues and some claimants are already on the maximum award and therefore cannot have been short-changed, there were fears that the reassessment might be used to downgrade the awards of some claimants, as the DWP tries to cut the cost of some claims to offset the increases that will have to be granted to others.
The SKWAWKBOX put the question directly to the DWP to ask whether the government would guarantee that nobody will have their payments reduced as a result of the reassessment – and received a frankly surprising response:
We will be screening the existing PIP caseload of 1.6m to identify the subset of people who may benefit. The vast majority of claimants will not be affected.
For the subset of people that may be affected (currently estimated at 220,000) we will undertake a detailed review of their application and award. Nobody will be downgraded as a result.
There may well be few among disability activists who are prepared to take the government at its word – but the DWP has now put itself on record in an official press response. If it does not act accordingly, the promise now can be used to hold it to account and may prove useful in potential future legal action.
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