I will make some progress. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions said in the House and in his letter last week to Debbie Abrahams, it is important to be clear about what these regulations are not. They are not a policy change, they are not intended to make new savings and they will not result in any claimant seeing a reduction in the amount of PIP previously awarded by the DWP. There is no change to the budget and no change to the guidance that we give to assessors.
To answer the point raised by Kate Green, she is right to say that between the making of the rulings and the coming into force of the regulations, a handful of people—we think about eight—will have been awarded a higher amount in the tribunal rulings. We will not claw back money from those people, but we will look at those cases and our intention is to restore them to the original benefit level. That is one reason why we have acted quickly. There will be no change in the amount of PIP paid to people who have previously been awarded a certain amount by the DWP, or in the amount paid to people who will be assessed on the same principles and the same policy in the future.
It is entirely appropriate for the Government to act to restore clarity to the law, as Governments have done before and will no doubt continue to do in the future. Indeed, Labour, when in government back in 2000, introduced a change to the rules for disability living allowance that overturned a commissioner’s decision holding that telephone conversations with someone with severe depression and chronic anxiety should count as qualifying attention for the care component of DLA. That decision was seen to have significantly widened the gateway not only to DLA, but to attendance allowance, and the then Government took a similar decision to the one we have taken to restore the original policy intent.
Let me assure the House that we want to ensure our policies are working and being delivered effectively, and we will continue to review our policies, including on PIP, regularly. I remind everyone that this Government have already introduced two formal statutory reviews of the PIP assessment, and we remain committed to publishing Paul Gray’s independent review, as set out in legislation. We remain committed to making continuous improvement in the PIP assessment and our decision making, and to improving the advice we provide to guide people through the process.
We know that feedback from claimants and stakeholders gives us valuable insight into the services we deliver. That is why we are setting up service user panels for PIP and ESA claimants, their carers and advocates, and representative groups to gather views on PIP and ESA. The panels, which will start next month and will initially run for 12 months, will ask for people’s views on their experiences of claiming, capture new ideas for improvement and test reactions to specific changes and proposals. We wish to reach as many people as possible.