DWP issues new PIP update as record numbers apply ahead of major changes

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Record numbers of 250,000 people applied for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in the quarter between January 31 and April 30, 2024, according to new figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions. That means an average of more than 80,000 new claims are made for the benefit each month.

The surge in applications has prompted many questions - including posts from members of BirminghamLive's Cost of Living Facebook group - about how long a PIP award lasts and whether the Green Paper on proposed reforms will bring people's payments to an abrupt halt before they are up for a formal review.

PIP was introduced in April 2013 as the eventual replacement for Disability Living Allowance (DLA). A planned overhaul that could replace its monthly cash payments with vouchers is the subject of a consultation running until July 22.

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The DWP said: "The UK's health landscape has changed since Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was introduced in 2013 with the intention that it would be a more sustainable benefit that would support disabled people to live independently by helping with the extra costs they face.

"However, the caseload and costs are now spiralling. There are now 2.6 million people of working age claiming PIP and DLA – with 33,000 new awards for PIP each month which is more than double the rate before the pandemic. This is expected to cost the taxpayer £28 billion a year by 2028/2029 – a 110 per cent increase in spending since 2019."

How long can you be awarded PIP for?

In the latest guidance accompanying its new statistics, the Department for Work and Pensions says that when an application for PIP is approved, decisions are made about the type of award and the length of time before a review of the claim will be carried out.

The award type may be:

  • a fixed-length award with a set period before a review takes place

  • an ongoing award with no end date, where the intention is to carry out a light-touch review at the 10-year point

  • a short-term award without review, which will end within a small number of years unless a new claim is submitted

Award types and review periods are decided on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the claimant's needs and the likelihood of those needs changing. This includes any planned treatment or therapy, or learning to manage a condition.

For fixed-length awards, the review period usually ranges from a minimum of nine months to a maximum of 10 years. Review periods of less than nine months are set only in exceptional circumstances. An award of two years or less is considered short-term.

The latest figures show that in the quarter ending April 2024, 79 per cent of claims awarded were short-term (0 to 2 years), 12 per cent were longer-term (over 2 years), and 8 per cent were ongoing.

As of May 31, 2019, a change in guidance for claimants whose review would have taken place when they reached State Pension age means that they are now generally given ongoing awards. People can continue receiving PIP when they reach pension age, but no new applications are allowed.

The PIP handbook says: "Most claimants will have their award regularly reviewed, regardless of the length of the award. This will make sure everyone continues to receive the most appropriate level of support. Some claimants will be given a limited-term award for a fixed period of up to two years. Their award will not be reviewed. Limited awards with no review date are given where the claimant's health condition may be reasonably expected to improve.

"Awards made under the special rules for end of life will be for three years. The daily living component will be paid at the enhanced rate in all cases. Payment of the mobility component will depend on whether the claimant needs help to get around and, if they do, how much help they need."

When PIP is awarded, decisions are made on the payment level for the two components of daily living and mobility. Each can be awarded at an enhanced or standard rate. Some applicants are only awarded one component, while others get both. This means that amounts paid out range from £114.80 to £737.20 every four weeks.

Figures show that 36 per cent of all claims with entitlement to PIP as of April 20, 2024 receive the highest level of award, with both daily living and mobility components paid at the enhanced rate. This is the same proportion as in the previous quarter.

People claiming PIP must have had their health condition or disability for three months and expect it to continue for at least another nine months. So if a PIP award is made, entitlement begins from the date of the claim, or from the date the three-month qualifying period was satisfied (for new claims), or from around four weeks after the PIP decision (for those moving across to PIP from Disability Living Allowance after a reassessment of their claim). There are times when payment may be suspended, such as when a person is in in hospital.

Will the planned reforms stop my PIP before my review is due?

Mims Davies, DWP Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, has assured people there will be no immediate change to their PIP as a result of the proposed reforms. But reviews will continue as normal and those could still mean someone's PIP is reduced or stopped in this ongoing process.

Asked about the impact of the planned benefits overhaul, Ms Davies confirmed: "Modernising Support for Independent Living: The Health and Disability Green Paper looks at different options to reshape the current welfare system so that we can provide better-targeted support to those who need it most. We are considering these options through our 12-week consultation which was published on Monday 29 April and will close on Monday 22 July at 11.59pm.

"There will be no immediate changes to PIP, or to health assessments. All scheduled PIP assessments and payments will proceed as normal, and claimants should continue to engage as usual and provide any necessary information or updates regarding their circumstances.

"We encourage everyone to respond to the consultation which can be found here so that we are able to hear from as many disabled people, people with health conditions, their representatives, and local stakeholders as possible on these important issues."

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