Our response to the Second Independent Review on PIP

Last week, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) published the Second Independent Review on Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

Personal Independence Payments are a benefit that help with the extra costs caused by a long-term condition or disability. Since they were launched in 2013, the Government has held two reviews to help improve the way the assessment process for this benefit works.

In our experience, brain tumour patients are often unsure about the type of evidence to ask for or what information the DWP needs to support their claim for PIP.

Confusion about the process means that many patients don't realise the significance of further evidence until their application is rejected, often making the assumption that the diagnosis of a brain tumour will be sufficient for a successful claim.

The Second Independent Review focused on:

  • The barriers to providing further evidence to the DWP about how a health condition or disability impacts on quality of life
  • Issues around the transparency of the assessment process
  • The lack of trust that many claimants have in the system

What we said about Further Evidence

We called on the DWP to give clearer guidance to those making a claim on what further evidence is required at different stages of the PIP assessment and why it is important to the decision making process.

In our experience, brain tumour patients are often unsure about the type of evidence to ask for or what information the DWP needs to support their claim for PIP.

Confusion about the process means that many patients don't realise the significance of further evidence until their application is rejected, often making the assumption that the diagnosis of a brain tumour will be sufficient for a successful claim.

What did the Review say about Further Evidence?

On this issue, the Review recommended that:

  • The DWP should make clear that the main responsibility that whoever makes the claim is responsible for providing further evidence
  • Claimants should not assume the DWP will contact healthcare professionals for this information about their condition affects them
  • The DWP needs to better explain the role of evidence and the responsibilities that a claimant has

We welcome the Review's work to establish who should provide further evidence, but we are still concerned about how this would affect brain tumour patients with cognitive impairment.

There should be flexibility in the process to allow a relative or carer to be nominated to take on this responsibility if the claimant themselves does not have the mental or physical capacity.

What did the Review say about improving transparency?

It was good to see the Review recommend that the DWP to be more transparent about the PIP assessment process, including how and why decisions are made.

This includes giving claimants a copy of the assessment report along with their decision letter, and by making audio recordings of face-to-face assessments, to assist in addressing any complaints about the process.

What did the Review say about improving trust in the process?

The Review called on the DWP to “ensure that evidence of carers is given sufficient weight in the assessment" for PIP. This is something that we have long called for.

One in five brain tumour patients face speech or hearing problems as a result of the condition, and it's crucial that an advocate is able to feed into this process to communicate to assessors how this affects them on a daily basis.

What happens next?

We will continue to lobby the DWP and assessment providers to ensure that the application and assessment is clear and consistent for all brain tumour patients navigating the benefits system.

We will soon be launching an advocacy programme, which will include a campaign to improve access to disability benefits for brain tumour patients. If you are interested in getting involved, you can sign up here.

If you are personally affected by a brain tumour, and would like some advice about what benefits you may be entitled to, you can book an appointment with our Benefits Clinic, which operates by telephone every Tuesday between 9:30am and 4.30pm. Find out more.