PIPs should be for 'really' disabled people, policy head says

George Freeman, policy unit head to Prime Minister Theresa May, has called for a reform of personal independence payments (PIPs), to ensure the benefits are received by individuals who are ‘really disabled’.

The government has proposed changes to PIPs, which replaced the Disability Living Allowance (DLA), after two tribunal rulings at the end of 2016 which ruled the DLA policy would have added £3.7 billion to the benefits bill by 2023.

The benefit is aimed at helping people cope with the extra costs of living with ill health or disability and are delivered according to the points a person scores in an assessment of their needs.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Freeman said: "These tweaks are actually about rolling back some bizarre decisions by tribunals that now mean benefits are being given to people who are taking pills at home, who suffer from anxiety.

"We want to make sure we get the money to the really disabled people who need it."

Responding to the comment, Mark Atkinson, chief executive of Scope, countered: "It is unhelpful to make crude distinctions between those with physical impairments and mental health issues because the kind of impairment someone has is not a good indicator of the costs they will face.

"Many disabled people will now be anxiously waiting to hear as to whether or not these tighter rules will affect their current PIP award.

"The government must offer clarity and reassurance that these new measures will not negatively affect the financial support that disabled people receive now or in the future, and that they stand by their commitment to making no further changes to disability benefits in this Parliament."