Personal Independence Payments

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:42 pm on 15th March 2017.

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Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 12:42 pm, 15th March 2017

You will recall, Mr Speaker, that on 23 February the Government issued these new regulations by which disabled people or people with a chronic mental health condition would be assessed for eligibility to personal independence payments. These regulations were laid down without any consultation with the Social Security Advisory Committee and without any debate.

As the Secretary of State said, the Committee examined this issue on 8 March and sent a letter with its recommendations to the Secretary of State, which was published yesterday. The Committee made a number of recommendations, including the need to consult more widely on the proposed changes and to test or pilot them before they come into force. So will the Secretary of State commit to implementing these recommendations in full before the regulations come into force?

Parliament has had no opportunity to debate the regulations fully, or to vote on them. When will it be able to do so? The Committee found that

“it is possible that some claimants may have been awarded the mobility component or a higher rate of mobility component…following earlier decisions by the Upper Tribunal on this issue.”

That directly contradicts statements by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work that no one would see a reduction in their PIP award. Will the Secretary of State take this opportunity to correct the record? Will he guarantee that that will not be the case when claimants are reassessed?

The Government’s decision to change the law on PIP is a clear demonstration of the fact that people with mental health conditions are not given equal treatment. Does the Secretary of State agree with his Department’s new guidance, issued yesterday, which states that mobility impairments caused by psychological issues are “not relevant”? An analysis published today by Scope shows that 89% of PIP cases resulted in successful decisions for claimants following either mandatory reconsideration or appeal. Will the Secretary of State now review the flawed PIP process as a matter of urgency?

We have argued for some time in favour of parity of esteem for mental and physical health. The Prime Minister famously said that there needed to be more support for people with mental health conditions. Will not the Government finally honour that pledge?