To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
(1) what representations he has received from (a) adults with autism and their families and (b) voluntary sector organisations about the assessment process for the personal independence payment and its accessibility for people with autism;
(2) what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the assessment process for the personal independence payment will be accessible for people with autism and other development disabilities.
The Department has received a wide range of representations from individuals with autism, their families and voluntary organisations representing them, both in writing and in meetings.
We recently consulted on the draft assessment criteria for personal independence payment (PIP) and received very helpful responses from the National Autistic Society (NAS), Act Now for Autism, ARChive and Autism Cymru, as well as from a number of individuals with autism and family members of such individuals. Meanwhile, officials have had several meetings with NAS to discuss the assessment and how it will work for people with autistic spectrum disorders. This included meeting with individuals with autism who had been assessed as part of our testing of the PIP assessment criteria, to learn from their experience.
This engagement is helping to inform our work to ensure that the claim and assessment process is tailored to the needs of people with autism. Key elements of this include ensuring that:
we gather the right information and evidence from individuals and professionals involved in their care to support the assessment process; individuals can have a relative, friend, carer or advocate with them during any face-to-face consultations to reassure and support them; the health professionals who assess individuals are sufficiently trained in autism and other mental and cognitive impairments and have access to more specialist support where needed; claim forms and other materials being sent to individuals are clear and easily understandable; and those organisations who deliver assessments for PIP work closely with disabled people and their organisations as they develop their detailed plans for the assessment process.