With an aim to make big cuts in order to benefit the economy in mind, the Government hastily created PIP, a Personal Independence Payment designed to help fund disabled people that cannot work. Those with chronic illnesses and progressive conditions are amongst the recipients (IF they can pass the test). In order to receive PIP, you must have a face to face meeting where your condition is assessed and it is decided whether or not you are eligible for payment/financial support. PIP has received no end of backlash since it was introduced over three years ago, with story after story of how disabled people have been ill-treated by the system emerging. Many are not receiving the financial support they need to survive. There was recent controversy surrounding PIP employees, with a channel 4 documentary hearing one saying that he had already decided their fate before they had even walked through the car park. These shocking revelations leave us to question whether or not PIP is fair to its claimants, and if not, where did it all go so wrong?
The be all and end all
What makes PIP so dangerous is that it really is the be all and end all – the ultimate decider for those that are disabled and in need of financial help. Without PIP, the claimant cannot have access to other benefits such as electric wheelchairs. Claiming PIP when all the odds are against you can have a stressful effect on a person, particularly when they are already in significantly bad health. Horror stories have emerged online of claimants turning up to be assessed in buildings with little to no disability access, cancelled appointments at the last minute with no valid reason provided and assessors having extremely little knowledge of a claimants condition all amount to accusations that very little respect and care is being given to disabled people, with the Government wearing their pound sign tainted glasses whilst dishing out minimum payments to those that need it most.
The PIP disaster has definitely had more media coverage since the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith and reports are suggesting that many tragic cases do not make headlines, and the lack of compassion and support from the Government means things are only getting worse. Disability charity Muscular Dystrophy UK has recently gone as far as to label the system as ‘not fit for purpose’. Surveying 300 people with muscle wasting conditions, the results that were gathered are shocking, with many experiencing delays in having their application processed because papers became lost by assessment companies. Ironically, it seems the so-called Personal Independence Payment is restricting the independence that so many once had. 400-500 disabled vehicles such as adapted cars and powered wheelchairs are being retracted from disabled people every week – this is seen as a lifeline to many, their only form of independence, something that gets them up and out of the house. Due to seemingly barbaric laws, the vehicle owner has seven days to hand back something they previously relied on so much. The time frame in which this occursfails to add up, meaning that the decision that confiscated the vehicle from the claimant, could be overturned, yet they have already been unfairly been forced to hand back their wheelchair or car.
The findings of the report, plus so many other forgotten cases, seem to suggest that David Cameron and his Government are unaware of what they are really dealing with. Do they realise that their drastic cuts are having such an adverse affect on the lives of probably the most vulnerable in our society. It seems they need to understand that you cannot create and develop a payment plan with its sole purpose being to save as much money as possible, where disabled and chronically ill people’s health is concerned. One decision could take away a lifetime’s independence and it is important that that is realised, before the disaster spreads even further.