Citizens Advice Ipswich helped 50% more clients with a problem related to Personal Independence Payments (PIP) in the year to 31 March 2017, compared to the previous year.
PIP is a benefit that helps people to meet the extra costs of being disabled or having a long term health condition. For example it allows them to employ a carer who can help them get washed and dressed in the mornings, or to have a mobility scooter so they can travel to work.
Most people who contacted the charity about PIP wanted help to:
- Make a claim or check their eligibility
- Challenge the outcome of their assessment decision
- Take their appeal to tribunal
To receive PIP people must have an assessment to gauge the level of assistance they need but flaws with the system can result in delays in getting an assessment, assessments being offered at inconvenient venues or cancelled at short notice, and some people being wrongly assessed.
The charity saw one client with serious health problems who was given an appointment for a PIP assessment in a town 35 miles away, involving a journey of at least two and a half hours by public transport. Although the client was refused a change of venue when she tried to get it moved, with help from Citizens Advice Ipswich the appointment was rearranged for the local assessment centre, a simple bus journey from the client’s home.
Common problems with the assessment include confusion over what evidence to submit in advance, being rushed for time during the assessment and the wrong information being recorded by assessors.
In total, almost 20,000 people asked Citizens Advice for help with a PIP problem in the year ending March 2017 making it the most common advice issue for the charity. Ipswich dealt with 158 which is over twice the national average.
Nicky Willshere, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Ipswich said:
“A wrong PIP assessment decision can lead to people missing out on the everyday support they need.
“The daily reality of living with a disability can often be overlooked during the PIP assessment so it’s important that people know they can try to overturn this decision by asking for a reconsideration or appealing their case at tribunal.”
“Anyone who wants to make a PIP appeal, or has a more general query about the benefit, should contact Citizens Advice Ipswich or Ipswich Disabled Advice Bureau to understand their next steps.”
General information on PIP and other benefits for disabled people or people with long-term health conditions can be found on https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/pip/