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Personal Independence Payments - supporting participation in society and the labour market

24 Gorffennaf 2015

Report Cover for PIP report

Our welfare system rightly recognises the challenges that people who are disabled or living with a long-term health condition face.

In comparison to those who are not disabled, disabled people are more likely to live in relative income poverty, are significantly less likely to be in employment and face barriers to participating in wider society and leading active and independent lives.

The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is the main benefit designed to provide support with meeting these needs for people of working age.

The design of PIP is based on two key principles. The first is to ensure support reaches those who need it. PIP is informed by the ‘social model of disability’ - support based on an assessment of how a person’s disability or condition impacts on their ability to lead an independent life, not on the condition they have.

The second is to make the benefit financially sustainable. PIP is expected to save 20% of the expenditure forecast for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) - the main benefit it replaced - or £2bn for the Exchequer.

The initial implementation of PIP in 2013 was problematic and highlighted the risks to realising its central aims. Delays meant many claimants were left without much-needed support, and also meant costs to the public purse were higher than expected. In response, the current Government has stated its commitment to improving the employment and life chances for disabled people and has taken a number of measures to ensure that the continued roll-out of PIP is successful.

Yet in the context of a wider programme of reduction in welfare spending, it is not clear

whether or not further changes will be made to PIP in future.

Citizens Advice has helped thousands of clients claiming PIP, giving us a unique insight into the importance of the benefit for disabled people and their families.

Any further changes to PIP would have considerable implications for:

  • People’s ability to cope with the extra costs associated with disability and health problems
  • People’s ability to work and take part in society
  • Disabled people’s wider support networks, including support for their families and carers and their assistance from their local communities

This report explores these implications in more detail. It is important that any further changes to the design or implementation of PIP are made with careful consideration of these potential impacts, and the circumstances of those affected, and that changes take place in a safe and steady way.