Thank you very much for your email regarding the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) campaign on Personal Independence Payments (PIP).
I respect the RNIB and the invaluable work they do to help improve the lives of blind and partially-sighted people in the UK. I’m proud that every year over £50 billion is spent to provide support to people with disabilities and health conditions so they can live as independently as possible, £7 billion more than in 2010. This amounts to 6% of all Government spending.
The assessment criteria for PIP are designed to ensure that partially sighted people get appropriate support, including the principle that an individual who satisfies more than one descriptor within an activity should receive the one worth the greater number of points. That ensures, for example, that someone who may be able to read at home using a magnifier but is unable to read something like a sign would be awarded the maximum points available for that activity.
I believe PIP is a fairer benefit than the previous system of Disability Living Allowance as it focuses help on those who need it most and can respond to the fluctuating needs of individuals. I understand that the Government is committed to further improving the assessment process, with two independent reviews having been completed, as well as a public consultation on improving the process for claimants.
I’m reassured that generally PIP assessments make the right decision. Since PIP was introduced, only 8% of initial decisions have gone to appeal and only 4% have been overturned. I very much hope that improvements in the assessment process will ensure this number falls further.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
With best wishes.