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 Damian Green Damian Green The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 12:42 pm, 15th March 2017

Let me deal with the hon. Lady’s questions in turn.

We will of course respond to the letter from the Social Security Advisory Committee. Obviously, we take everything that it has said very seriously. We will also maintain the practice—in which the Government have always engaged—of continuous improvement in the PIP guidance. The assessment guidance is freely available, and can be viewed on gov.uk. We are constantly changing it, and the way to do that is to make parliamentary regulations, which is precisely what we are doing in this case. I am conscious that the hon. Lady has personally prayed against these regulations, which gives Parliament a chance to scrutinise them. That process will go through the normal channels, as it always does.

The hon. Lady asked a number of other detailed questions. I can only repeat what I have said before, and what has been said by my hon. Friend the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work: no claimants will see a reduction in the amount of benefit that they were previously awarded by the DWP. The Committee says that a tribunal may have lifted the awards of some people, and it is indeed possible that that has happened. We will not claim back money that those people have received during the period before the new regulations come into force, and no one will receive less than they were awarded by the DWP. That is what I have said all along. [Interruption.] As the hon. Lady knows, reassessment happens regularly in the case of PIP and other benefits.

Let me now respond to a very serious point made by the hon. Lady. I want to clear up the position and reassure people, because I think that millions would be put into a state of unnecessary distress if they thought that PIP was not fair to those with mental health conditions. The truth is that PIP is a much better benefit for people with such conditions than its predecessor, disability living allowance. Under the regulations, people with a cognitive impairment alone can receive the highest rate of the mobility component of PIP. It is simply not the case that people with mental health conditions will not be able to do so. If the hon. Lady reads the regulations, she will see why that has happened.

Even if the hon. Lady and other Opposition Members are not willing to accept what I have said, may I please ask them to go away and look at the facts? The facts are these: 65% of PIP recipients with a mental health condition received the enhanced-rate daily living component, whereas 22% used to receive it under DLA. As for the specific mobility aspect, to which the hon. Lady referred. 27% of PIP recipients with a mental health condition receive the enhanced-rate mobility component, whereas 9% received it under DLA. It is perfectly clear from the facts that the regulations restore PIP to its original policy intent, and that that policy intent is better for people with mental health conditions than earlier benefits were.

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