Martin Lewis calls new PIP proposals ‘political hot air’ as people with mental health conditions reach out

Martin Lewis is urging people receiving disability benefits for mental health conditions not to worry about new reforms proposed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in a new Green Paper. In an effort to alleviate evident panic and worry expressed by people reaching out on social media, the financial journalist acknowledged how difficult an announcement about welfare changes can be, especially for those with a mental health condition, but reminded followers that “nothing has happened” and that for now, it is still “political hot air”.

The founder of posted to 2.8m followers on X (formerly Twitter): “I want to say something to the people with mental health conditions that have got in touch with me worried / panicked about the govt news on possible benefits changes... NOTHING HAS HAPPENED.”

He emphasised that the Green Paper published by the UK Government is an “early stage consultation document” and that a White Paper may follow. But he stressed how “these things are not quick, if they happen, and this is a general election year - so whether it will happen at all is another question”.

The consumer champion continued: “This type of debate is given attention to create political news and put clear water between parties in an election year. Sadly doing that in the area of mental health, can have a real human impact, terrifying people about changes that may never happen

“So if you're worried about it, while I know it's easy to say and hard to do, forget it - for now it is still political hot air.”

Martin’s post has already been viewed by over 733,300 people, shared by more than 2,200 and liked by 6,600.

Lee Healey, founder of award winning IncomeMax - a free, confidential money advice service, which has helped find over £38m in unclaimed benefits, grants and discounts for people struggling with their finances across the UK - has also shared that his team have been carefully briefed on the issues within the Green Paper so that “advisers can reassure PIP recipients we speak to that no changes are being made any time soon”.

Earlier this week, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mel Stride MP, announced the launch of a new online consultation proposing a review of the eligibility criteria, assessment process and alternatives to the monthly fixed cash awards of up to £737 for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The spiralling costs of PIP looks likely to have been the catalyst for the UK Government's review and ever-increasing caseload - there are over 33,000 new awards for PIP per month compared to 17,000 before the pandemic.

However, it’s important to be aware that the Green Paper only outlines proposals - nothing is changing just now - and that anyone can complete the online consultation and express their views on them.

Before you complete the consultation here, you will need to read the ‘Modernising support for independent living: the health and disability Green Paper’ here, as it contains the questions to be answered.

People living in Scotland on disability benefits

New claims for PIP have been replaced in Scotland by Adult Disability Payment (ADP) since August 2022. Just under 219,000 existing PIP claimants are currently being transferred to the devolved Scottish system in stages, along with around 80,000 people on DLA - this process is expected to be completed before the end of 2025.

The proposals to change PIP will not affect people living in Scotland whether they are on ADP, DLA or PIP.

While the Green Paper highlights how responsibility for delivery of disability benefits lies with the UK and devolved governments, it is unlikely that the Scottish Government will make any changes to a benefit that has been designed with a ‘humane approach’ putting the needs of people first.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that ADP was created by the Scottish Government with input from disabled people, charities and organisations, to ensure it was a benefit designed to be accessible and straightforward for all who use it.

The Green Paper states: “ Responsibility for health and disability benefits lies with both the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations. We will continue to work with the Devolved Administrations to consider the implications of the proposals in this Green Paper in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

“The extra costs benefits, including PIP, have been devolved to the Scottish Government since April 2020. Since then, the Scottish Government has introduced a replacement benefit for PIP - Adult Disability Payment (ADP). The Scottish Government is currently conducting an independent review into ADP.

“The aim is to complete the transfer of all PIP awards in 2025. Scottish Government is preparing legislation for the introduction of their replacement benefits for Attendance Allowance (Pension Age Disability Payment), which is due to be introduced from Autumn 2024 and their replacement for DLA claimants of working age and pension age (Scottish Adult Disability Living Allowance), which is due to be introduced from Spring 2025.”

Commenting on the Green paper, Tom Marsland, Policy Manager at the national disability charity Sense, said: “The government’s narrative around disability benefits lately has been divisive and deeply damaging, suggesting benefits are being ‘too readily’ handed out. We’ve already heard from disabled people who feel sick with worry that they might lose their PIP, which gives them a vital financial lifeline.

“For most disabled people, disability benefits aren’t covering their costs as it stands – Sense research has found nearly half of disabled people found it difficult to afford costs related to their condition. Disabled people desperately need more support, not rhetoric that casts them as undeserving.

“Disability benefits are a good thing. They help disabled people to live full, happy lives. We should be proud as a country of having a system in place that provides disabled people with a safety net, not demonising those who need to use it.”

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