New figures from the MS Society have shown that one in three people with multiple sclerosis (MS) who apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for the first time are being refused the benefit.
A Freedom of Information request from the charity to the Department of Work and Pensions showed that 31% of new claims made between April 2013 and April 2017 from people with MS (that’s 4,100 people) were ‘disallowed’. A further 6% qualified for PIP initially, but were then rejected upon reassessment.
According to the charity, this is further indication that the PIP assessment system is flawed – especially as 65% of PIP decisions that go to appeal are overturned.
Earlier in 2017, the MS Society highlighted that £6million a year has been taken from people with MS when they’ve been reassessed to move to PIP from DLA.
Michelle Mitchell, Chief Executive of the MS Society, said: “It’s insulting that so many people who are diagnosed with a long-term, incurable condition are being told they don’t qualify for support. These latest figures show PIP isn’t just hurting those who’ve been moved across from the old system, but also new people who are trying to get support for the first time.
“PIP is meant to help manage the extra costs of living with a disability and assist people to be more independent. But it’s a tougher system than DLA, with much stricter rules. In too many cases, assessments fail to reflect the barriers people with MS face.
“Earlier this month we saw the Government rewrite some of the rules to comply with a legal ruling to make PIP fairer. But rather than tinkering around the edges, the Government needs to review the whole system to make sure it works more effectively for those it’s designed to support. Having MS is hard enough; it shouldn’t be made harder by a welfare system that doesn’t make sense.”
The charity is urging the government to carry out an review of PIP to make sure that the assessments reflect the reality of living with MS – which can be a progressive condition. They want to see assessors with professional experience and training in neurological and fluctuating conditions, as well as an evaluation of how PIP takes hidden symptoms like pain and fatigue into account.
Find out more about the MS Society at www.mssociety.org.uk, or call the helpline for free on 0808 800 8000.