Personal Independence Payment: Regulations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:44 pm on 29th March 2017.

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Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately Conservative, Faversham and Mid Kent 4:44 pm, 29th March 2017

I do not agree with the first of the hon. Gentleman’s two points. He should continue to listen to what I have to say. I agree with his second point and, if he listens to what I have to say, he may find that we are aligned on that.

I thank the Minister for being exceptionally assiduous in responding to and discussing my concerns on these matters. I have had several meetings with her in which she has emphasised her commitment to achieving the original aim of PIP, which is to support people to live full and independent lives. I have questioned her about the regulations in my role as chair of the all-party parliamentary group on mental health, and as a local Member of Parliament. For instance, we have discussed the case of a lady I met in Maidstone a few weeks ago who had been set on fire on a bus. That lady told me that she has been unable to go out of the house without being accompanied by somebody she trusts since then. Throughout the discussion about the regulations, she has been worried that the welfare system might not treat her the same as someone who has been unable to leave the house because of a physical disability. The Minister has assured me that that is not the case and that people are, and will continue to be, given payments based not on their diagnosis, but on their needs.

Will the Minister now clarify to us all that somebody suffering with severe psychological distress such as post-traumatic stress disorder, who needs to get out and about—for instance, to go to work or take their children to school—but finds it impossible to do so without significant assistance, could and would receive the enhanced rate mobility component of PIP, if their needs justified it?

Given the concern about the issue and the regulations, I also ask for the Minister’s reassurance on three counts regarding implementation. First, will she ensure that the guidance to PIP assessors is absolutely clear that people with mental health conditions can and should receive PIP awards based on their needs and costs, and that that may well be the enhanced level? Secondly, will she ensure, through the audit system that she has told me about, that this happens in practice? Thirdly, will she draw on the evidence provided by recordings of PIP assessments, the trialling of which I welcome, having pressed her and her predecessor, my hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon, who is sitting behind me, on recording PIP assessments?