I share concerns about punitive PIP assessments and their impact on some of the most vulnerable people in society.
I was deeply concerned by the Disability Benefits Consortium’s recent findings that eight in every 10 of those facing PIP assessments find it make their health worse, and two thirds feel their claim was poorly represented by the assessor. I am also deeply worried that based on current DLA to PIP re-assessment outcomes, up to 30,000 Scottish people could lose their entitlement to non means-tested disability benefits due to re-assessment to PIP.
PIP was recently devolved to the Scottish Parliament under the Scotland Act 2016. However, the Scottish Government has asked the UK Government to retain responsibility for certain benefits in Scotland until at least 2020. In relation to PIP, I am concerned this decision will result in 130,000 Scots being assessed under the current cruel system. Given that 26 per cent of people in poverty in Scotland are disabled, I believe this is a missed opportunity by the Scottish Government to utilise their new powers and mitigate Tory austerity for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
In the 2017 General Election I stood on a manifesto which pledged to scrap Work Capability and PIP assessments and replace them with a personalised assessment process, The manifesto also committed to use new powers over social security in Scotland, as soon as is practicable, to make different, fairer choices to those of the UK government.
The Scottish Government has set up a Disability and Carers Benefit Expert Advisory Group to provide advice to Scottish Ministers on specific policy options for those benefits which have been devolved, whilst a Scottish Social Security Agency is established. I will follow the work of this group closely.
In the meantime, I hope the UK Government reads the Disability Benefit Consortium’s report and its recommendations, and works with the consortium to make improvements to PIP.