Tag Archives: PIP

More people needing help with PIP, says Citizens Advice Ipswich

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/

Confused about your benefits?

Ipswich Citizens Advice are here to offer FREE help and support.

Ipswich Citizens Advice is finding that many people are worried about how the welfare reform changes will affect them and how to claim the benefits they are entitled to. In particular, the constant news coverage around Personal Independence Payments (PIP) is alarming people claiming Disability Living Allowance (DLA) as they are concerned that they will lose their benefits.

DLA claimants who were born after 8 April 1948 and are 16 or over will be invited to claim PIP at some point over the next few years. There is currently no clear guidance from The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) as to when this will happen.

The DWP will write to claimants and invite them to apply for PIP. The process will involve completing a form on how their condition affects their ability to carry out tasks, as well as attending a medical assessment. Citizens Advice strongly recommends that all claimants get free advice and support to complete the form before they send it off.

Ipswich Citizens Advice also supports claimants through the new Universal Credit application process. This new benefit involves important changes to the way people make the claim, receive the payments and the time scales for payments. We are helping people with each of these stages. We are operating out of the Job Centre on Tuesday mornings as well as from our base in Tower Street.

As new Universal Credit figures are released, Ipswich Citizens Advice is sharing its five key things you need to know about Universal Credit:

  1. Universal Credit is a new benefit for people in and out of work, which will eventually merge six benefits into one: Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support, Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit. Currently you can still apply for ESA separately from Universal Credit.
  2. Universal Credit does not include Council Tax Support – you will still need to apply for this locally.
  3. You apply for Universal Credit via a single application; you’re usually expected to do this online, but you can apply over the phone or in person if you need to.
  4. Universal Credit payments are made on a monthly basis, rather than weekly or fortnightly like previous benefit.
  5. You can ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit to help you get by while you’re waiting for your first payment. This is called a ‘short term advance’.

Helen Bloomfield, Manager of the Money Advice Team in Ipswich Citizens Advice explains, “There is confusion around the changes and we would just like to remind people that we are here to help and support them with benefit claims. Ipswich Citizens Advice has a dedicated Income Maximization Officer whose role it is to support Clients in identifying and claiming all the benefits they are entitled to as well as helping them to complete the forms.”

She adds, “The other important reminder we want to emphasize to people is that we provide this advice and support free of charge. There is no need for people to pay for this information as we can assist them through the claims process as well as providing further advice on other money management issues.”

If you have any concerns about your income or would like to be sure that you are receiving all the benefits that you are entitled to, then do contact us for help. You can also use an online benefits calculator to check. www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits

In the last 12 months local Citizens Advice across England and Wales have helped people with over 150 Universal Credit issues every week.

For more information contact us on 0300 330 1151 or see our website citizensadvice.org.uk

Joint press release from Ipswich Citizens Advice and Ipswich Disabled Advice Bureau

Response to Budget announcements ‘Household finances mirror the instability of the wider economy’

Ipswich Citizens Advice and Ipswich Disabled Advice Bureau response to the Budget 2016 around Personal Independence Payments and the importance of more investment in front-line money and debt advice services.

We have seen an increase in demand for support with all aspects of access to disability benefits from completing applications to appealing decisions on Personal Independence Payments in Ipswich over the last 12 months. This benefit is designed to maximise people’s ability to play an active role in our society, whether to go out to work or to be able to stay in their own home.

Nicky Willshere, Manager Ipswich Citizens Advice said:

“Disabled people who rely on PIP for help to get dressed or use the toilet will be worried about the impact this Budget has on their ability to live an independent life. We have helped over a 1000 clients with benefits issues since April and almost 800 clients with debt worries.”

Pat Ramsey, Manager of Ipswich Disabled Advice Bureau said:

“We dealt with over 1400 enquiries about PIP issues and took on 718 PIP related cases in 2015. Issues related to the complexity of the whole process – getting together the information required to make the initial claim by phone, helping to complete the 36 page form, the large number of people asked to travel to Colchester, Braintree or Norwich for their medical assessment as the Ipswich facility has limited capacity, as well as representing those who feel their decision is wrong – with an 88 percent success rate. Government is planning to make this significant change before they have a full picture of the impact of PIP on the lives of people with disabilities, as most claimants of Disabled Living Allowance (DLA) have yet to be contacted about the compulsory change to PIP.”

“The planned changes to PIP will impact on all aspects of the lives of people with disabilities as they relate to help with their basic needs – getting in and out of bed, using the toilet, washing and dressing as well as preparing, and taking, food and drink. The changes fail to recognise the fact that disabled people research and purchase themselves to try to be as independent as possible. This news comes just a week after the announcement of parliamentary agreement to remove the Work Related Activity component from Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The potential effect on the physical, mental and financial well-being of people with disabilities, their carers and families is enormous.”

On the commitment by the Government to invest more in front-line debt and money advice both charities welcomed this news. Both charities have specialist debt and income maximisation teams who can help clients manage their money, deal with their debts and ensure benefits are claimed.

Nicky Willshere, Manager Ipswich Citizens Advice said:

“Household finances mirror the instability of the wider economy. Increasing the personal tax allowance threshold to £11,500 from April 2017 and helping households to save are both very positive steps. We help with debt issues every working day and know there are many people struggling to balance the books. It is crucial that people can access free and impartial advice at every step of the way, not just when things start to go wrong. In these difficult times it is vital that everyone who needs it has access to professional, free, impartial advice. We can help to get effective financial guidance to people early which is key to improving household finances and economic security. The Government’s commitment to invest more in front-line debt and money advice is good news. It’s crucial financial help isn’t just available at crisis points, people should be able to access it at key moments in their lives, like when they move jobs or have a baby.”