PIP: a bit of a rant!

Policy-makers want to reduce the costs of this benefit which supports people with disabilities.

Firstly, PIP has nothing to do with work.  It doesn’t matter if those getting the benefit are working or not.  PIP is about the extra costs of life with a disability so it is awarded to people who have difficulties with moving about or caring for themselves.

How can the costs of PIP be reduced?

Tackling the causes of disability is the obvious starting point:

* Poverty.  People who already live in poverty  are more likely to gain a life-changing health condition.  Not being able to get a job, working part-time, on low income, relying on benefits are all red flags for poverty and, so, disability.

* Life-style.  On top of all the well-known causes of poor health, there’s growing recognition that changes over the last decade or so are contributing.  Ultra-processed food,   smart phones, social media pressures, algorithms  and  more sedentary life-styles are all new factors.  Different work styles, especially post-Covid, more on-line rather than human interactions, low skills  and hard taskmasters  probably all play some part too.  When an economy is struggling, its easy to forget the human element and throw the weakest to the wind.

* Diagnosis and Treatment.  Getting a GP appointment and specialist referral is difficult for everyone but  worse for some.  Lots of the processes aren’t “accessible” in the broadest sense and many don’t have on-line connections.  Getting that specialist appointment can take months (even years).  Meanwhile, that original health problem may be getting worse, have others added and be further complicated by time-off sick or even job loss.  A relentless downward spiral.

Those who mistakenly muddle PIP with being out of work may not understand the system.  Other benefits are paid to people with disabilities who can’t get a job.  What causes their unemployment is the starting point:

* Poverty.  Again, a key factor as poor people are more likely to become workless long-term sick younger.

* Diagnosis and Treatment.  As above.

* Employer attitudes.  After 14 years, lots still don’t pay attention to the Equality Act when it comes to their workers.  They are still prejudiced about the D-word meaning that a million disabled people wanting a job don’t get a chance (and I’ve known a lot of them)  .

* Back-to-work support.  Some organisations seem to coerce, bully, threaten and trick people into job search activities.  If they were more empathetic and supportive , they’d have more success in improving lives and the economy. In contrast, quick wins from “low-hanging fruit” may be only a short-term fix.

Disabled people can be easy pickings for those who want headlines and bold cost-cutting.  They do so at their own risk: we make up at least 1-in-5 of the population  and, with a family member, friend, carer etc,  probably influence more like half the electorate.

If you get a chance, have your say about the consultation paper before 23 July: Disability Benefits system to be overhauled as consultation launched on Personal Independence Payment – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Of course, it’s excruciatingly long and not accessible so you could just respond to the press release: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/disability-benefits-system-to-be-overhauled-as-consultation-launched-on-personal-independence-payment–2

© 2024 - Penny Melville-Brown
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