Our response to the social security committee’s call for evidence on the social security (Scotland) bill

6 September 2017

By Ashleigh de Verteuil 

The way certain benefits such as personal independent payments (PIP) are delivered in Scotland will soon be changing. We’ve written to the Scottish government to highlight how the current application for PIP doesn’t work for disabled people. We want to see a new approach, to ensure benefits truly meet the needs of disabled people.

Our research has found PIP’s initial application is too complicated, and doesn’t give disabled people the opportunity to fully explain the impact their condition has on their life:

‘The focus of questions on the PIP form [is] largely stupid and irrelevant to my physical conditions. These are more for mental health which I feel fine. [I] would like more focus for those with physical [conditions] and how this affects us more daily, as opposed to, “can I count money”.’

Similarly the face-to-face assessment fails to capture the impact of their disability or condition:

‘The PIP assessment face-to-face interview didn't seem to take account of the fact that some days I'm much worse than others, which meant I lost the four points I'd have needed to qualify for a mobility car.’

We have told the Scottish government they need to take a different approach. There is a chance to create a new way of doing things, one which meets the needs of disabled people it is supposed to serve.

In our response to the social security committee we recommended:

  • Making the initial phone call to apply for PIP optional.
  • Ensure disabled people are given the opportunity to fully explain the impact of their condition on their ability to carry out daily activities, in both the PIP claim form and in the face-to-face assessment.
  • Improve communication with claimants throughout the entire process in order to ensure people have the right information at the right time. Claimants should have one main person who they can contact at any point, with any questions regarding their claim.
  • PIP should take into account the actual extra costs associated which disabled people face. We are calling on the Scottish government to research these extra costs so PIP in Scotland reflects this.

Ashleigh is a policy and research officer for Leonard Cheshire Disability.

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