We published new analysis today showing how people living with MS are being failed by the disability benefits system.
Most people with MS who appeal their Personal Independence Payment (PIP) decision after moving from the old benefit go on to win – at a 12% higher rate than the general success rate. The UK Government has unnecessarily spent almost £1m of taxpayers’ money on this process.
Government wastes £ thousands
Recent figures show that in the past five years independent tribunals ruled in favour of 83% of people with MS who disputed Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) decisions on PIP after they were reassessed from the old benefit, Disability Living Allowance (DLA). The overall rate for all claimants is currently 71%.
We calculate that since 2013 the DWP and Ministry of Justice have spent around £997,210 on appeals won by people with MS who have lost support in the transfer from DLA.
Senseless, wasteful process
The actor Alun Armstrong, whose sister lives with MS, is supporting our work to improve PIP. He said: “These disturbing figures show just how senseless and wasteful the PIP process is. For thousands of people with MS, losing support means not being able to afford food or heating, being stuck in limbo while waiting for tribunal hearings, and even seeing their MS get worse as a result of this stress. The Government could stop this pain by fixing PIP assessments. I’ve seen how living with MS is hard enough. It shouldn’t be made harder by a welfare system that doesn’t make sense.”
Having MS is enough
Our MS: Enough campaign urges the UK Government to make welfare make sense for people with MS, and calls for a review and redesign of the PIP assessment process. As part of the review, we want to see changes including
- assessors with knowledge and experience of MS
- an evaluation of how PIP taking into account hidden symptoms like pain and fatigue
- more consideration given to additional evidence provided by MS nurses and other specialists as part of the application process
- and the scrapping of the 20 metre rule as the measure for the higher rate of PIP mobility support.
PIP isn't working
A neurological condition like MS can increase living costs by around £200 a week 2. PIP is meant to help manage these extra costs. But since 2013 an estimated 8,663 people with MS who have transferred from DLA to PIP have seen their award reduced or haven't qualified for PIP at all.
1,690 people with MS have taken their cases to appeal and 1,410 of these went in their favour.
Dawn's PIP appeal made her condition worse
Dawn Lancaster, lives in Macclesfield and was diagnosed with MS in 1995. She started receiving DLA in 2000, after having to stop working due to her health. She was given a lifetime award of the higher rate mobility component and middle rate care.
After a reassessment to be moved to PIP in May 2017, Dawn had her support cut to the lower mobility rate and no care component. She appealed this decision and won. In December a tribunal reinstated the benefit to what she was originally entitled to.
Dawn said: “Having to go through this made me feel the lowest of the low. I felt so guilty for having an illness through no fault of my own.
“The stress of appealing put me in a right state, I had to see a doctor because it made me so poorly. For months I couldn’t do anything but sleep – the fatigue and depression paralysed me.
“I think PIP would be a much fairer system if the assessors understood how unpredictable MS is. I don’t think they realise that with MS you can walk in looking fine one day then the next day you’re so ill you can’t leave your bed. With MS you just never know.”
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