New DWP update for people on PIP in Scotland after launch of consultation

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has been in the spotlight since Prime Minister Rishi Sunak first shone a light on proposed welfare reforms for benefits delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) last month.

However, scrutiny has intensified since the launch of the new Green Paper on April 29, which proposes a review of PIP eligibility criteria, a redesign of the assessment process so that it is more linked to a person’s condition and finding alternatives to regular monthly cash payments.

Much of the speculation has left people in Scotland on PIP confused as they will be moving to the devolved benefit, Adult Disability Payment (ADP), before the end of 2025 and unsure if proposed changes will apply to them. The DWP has now clarified that it will “no longer have any delegated administrative authority regarding PIP in Scotland once transfer is complete”.

New claims for PIP have been replaced in Scotland by ADP since August 2022 and just under 219,000 existing PIP claimants are currently being transferred to the devolved Social Security Scotland system in stages, along with around 80,000 people on DLA.

The Green Paper highlights how responsibility for delivery of disability benefits lies with the UK and devolved governments.

However, in response to a query on the topic from SNP MP David Linden, DWP Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Mims Davies MP, it’s evident the proposed changes will only apply south of the border.

In a written response on Thursday, Ms Davies said: “The department discusses various aspects of social security with the Scottish Government, at both Ministerial and official level. We continue to engage with the Scottish Government to consider the implications of the proposals outlined in the Prime Minister’s announcement and the Health and Disability Green Paper consultation in Scotland.”

She continued: “The UK Government is committed to improving the lives of disabled people and people with long-term health conditions in all parts of the UK. Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is devolved in Scotland and has been replaced with Adult Disability Payment. No new claims to PIP have been made in Scotland since August 2022.

“However, DWP continues to deliver PIP in Scotland for existing cases on behalf of Scottish Ministers whilst Scottish cases are being transferred to Social Security Scotland.

“All cases are due to be transferred in 2025 and DWP will no longer have any delegated administrative authority regarding PIP in Scotland once transfer is complete.”

The Green Paper sets out how the DWP wants to consider whether supporting people through direct, regular cash payments is still the best approach, or whether other approaches would better target their resources - delivering the right support to the people who need it most.

It goes on to give examples of how disability benefits are delivered in other countries:

  • New Zealand - people submit supporting medical evidence verifying their health condition and also provide estimates of their additional costs

  • Denmark - awards for extra costs are determined on a case-by-case basis and issued by local government

Other examples are given for France, USA, Norway, Sweden. All countries have tighter eligibility criteria and require medical certificates, proof of purchases for products or services, and offer a tiered benefit payment system - full details here.

Alternatives to regular cash payments

The Green Paper explains that if DWP were to consider other ways of supporting people with disabilities and long-term health conditions - apart from providing regular cash payments - it could continue to contribute to people’s extra costs through alternative models.

These could include:

  • Catalogue/ shop scheme: in this kind of scheme, there would be an approved list from which disabled people could choose items at reduced or no cost. This would likely work better for equipment and aids rather than for services.

  • Voucher scheme: in this kind of scheme, disabled people could receive vouchers to contribute towards specific costs. It could work for both equipment/aids and for services.

  • A receipt-based system: this would involve claimants buying aids, appliances, or services themselves, and then providing proof of their purchase to claim back a contribution towards the cost. This could work in a similar way to Access to Work, which provides grants for equipment, adaptations, and other costs to help disabled people to start and stay in work.

  • One-off grants: these could contribute towards specific, significant costs such as for home adaptations or expensive equipment. It could involve a person supplying medical evidence of their condition to demonstrate the need for equipment or adaptations.

The consultation accompanying the Green Paper aims to determine whether these alternative models could help people with the extra costs of their disability or health condition.

Other forms of support could include health care, social services care provision and respite, which it states are also important to help people to realise their full potential and live independently.

“We would like to understand whether some people receiving PIP who have lower, or no extra costs, may have better outcomes from improved access to treatment and support than from a cash payment,” it adds.

The consultation also aims to find out whether there are specific groups of people who have a need of a greater level of support than they currently receive, and whether this support should be financial or take a different form, such as improved access to healthcare - such as mental health provision or physiotherapy - or enhanced local authority support.

You can read the full Green Paper and complete the online consultation on GOV.UK here.

The consultation will be open until July 23, 2024.

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