We were at Downing Street today handing in our open letter signed by more than 21,000 people, to demand the Government change unfair PIP assessments.
More than 21,000 of us have signed an open letter demanding the UK Government makes changes to Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The open letter came after our research showed major flaws with the system.
It highlights some of our concerns with PIP, including uninformed assessors, inaccurate reports and excessively complex forms.
Our Downing Street delivery team was made up of people from our campaigns team and our wider MS community - including our MS Society Ambassador Janis Winehouse who has secondary progressive MS and campaigner Ashley Arundale who has relapsing MS.
Ashley's PIP report was full of contradictions
Ashley is a veterinary nurse who came all the way from Leeds today to hand the letter in. Her MS symptoms include pain, limited mobility, vision problems and extreme fatigue. She also struggles with anxiety.
Handing in the letter to Number 10, Ashley explained:
“PIP is completely essential for me and many others with MS who want to live independently, yet the process is designed to trip us up at every turn. I don’t feel my assessor understood MS at all, and she gave me no chance to explain the condition. When I eventually got the report it was full of contradictions, and ignored anything I’d said that was inconvenient to her version of me. The report also said my condition could improve with specialist input. But treatment does not make MS better, it just stops it getting worse.
I’m not an angry person but it makes me really angry
“I’m not an angry person but it makes me really angry – the total lack of knowledge was alarming. I thought about appealing but was afraid of making a fuss and losing the award altogether, which I know has happened to others. Right now I don’t feel supported by the system at all.”
PIP must change
Our research shows that at least one in four people with MS have had their PIP reduced or cut altogether – often incorrectly.
Last year we uncovered figures that reveal 83% of people with MS who appealed their PIP decision after moving from Disability Living Allowance (DLA), won their case at tribunal. This success rate is 12% higher than the general overturn rate for PIP.
Too often, PIP assessors make inaccurate decisions based on ‘informal observations’ (the way people look or act during their assessment). 67% of people with MS whose assessment included these said they didn’t reflect how MS affects them.
We need a PIP process we can trust
Decisions must be backed by evidence not assumptions. And assessments should be carried out by people with good knowledge of MS.
Our MS Society Ambassador Janis said:
“I’m here today to support the people living with MS whose voices still aren’t being heard. Some of my closest friends have been through the exhausting and demoralising process of claiming PIP, and it can’t go on any longer. MS is relentless, painful and exhausting. And right now PIP is costing many people their independence rather than giving it to them.”
We need common sense changes
Our Head of Campaigns and External Relations, Jonathan Blades added:
“The UK’s welfare system is in crisis, leaving thousands of disabled people suffering as a result. A process that was designed to protect society’s most vulnerable is now too often doing the opposite. More than 100,000 of us live with MS in the UK, and we needs common-sense changes to PIP now so people can get the basic support they need.
"This doesn’t need a lengthy consultation or elusive green paper. Just decisions backed up by evidence, and assessments carried out by professionals with good knowledge of the condition.
“We hope the Prime Minister Boris Johnson will read this letter carefully, and understand the impact these deeply flawed assessments are having. It’s time we had a benefits process people can trust."
We won't stop campaigning to make PIP make sense
And we're strongest when we speak up together.