Please note: The current Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic is fast moving, and reactions to it seem to update not just day-by-day but minute-by-minute. Obviously, this site was not designed to bring you the very latest developments in a ‘breaking news’ story such as this. Instead, this site will continue to include news and opinions relating to major events, policy changes, and so on.
Claims for a key government benefit, that is paid to many people with disabilities, are to be able to be made online by the end of the year if all goes well, a politician has revealed.
The benefit is the UK’s Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and news of its move online was given by Justin Tomlinson, minister for disabled people, when answering a question from an MP in the House of Commons.
The MP had asked if the PIP claims form could be filled in and submitted online while the pandemic lasts.
Mr Tomlinson responded: “We are committed to providing a digital channel – ‘PIP Apply’ – to widen claimants’ choices on how to make a new claim for PIP. Using the digital channel is optional and we will ensure we provide effective alternatives for those who are unable or prefer not to use our online services. We are aiming to provide this service by the end of the year.”
With the easing of lockdowns and other restrictions brought in to fight COVID-19, the pandemic is proving it is still among us. The numbers of new cases ad deaths continue to rise and that means that many housing, health and advice workers are still not able to carry out face-to-face interviews. Because of this, the ability to make clams online is likely to be a great help, particularly if claimants and different advisers are allowed to view and add to the same form.
The pandemic and resulting restrictions, such the lack of those face-to-face sessions re undoubtedly behind a dramatic fall in both PIP claims and requests for mandatory reconsideration* of negative decisions by the government’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Figures for one UK country, Northern Ireland, show that fresh claims for PIP in April and May are down by almost 60% compared to the same period last year.
During the same two months, mandatory reconsideration requests fell dramatically – down 90% compared to April and May last year.
While these falls have yet to be explained officially, it seems to me to be a simple case of cause and effect. Restrictions imposed to contain the pandemic caused great difficulty for people to gain access to support, which means fewer people were told that they may be eligible for PIP, leading to fewer claims being made. Similarly, fewer pf those who have claimed PIP but been refused by the DWP, got the support needed to challenge that refusal – hence the drop in the number of requests for mandatory reconsiderations.
Hopefully, making it possible to make PIP claims online will be a great stride forward in the whole process becoming more open and accessible for all. But it will only be effective if it is reliable ad give claimants the chance to involve advisers and to provide all the evidence they want.
To this end, I am delighted that disability and welfare rights advisers are preparing to test the new ‘PIP Apply’ online system once it is launched.
Don’t be surprised if the government puts back its introduction, however, as it has a ready-made excuse: the COVID-19 pandemic.
What? Me, cynical? Perish the thought! We’ll see.
* Mandatory reconsideration
If a claimant disagrees with a decision the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) make about their benefits, they can ask the DWP to look at it again.
They MUST ask the DWP to reconsider its decision before they can appeal to a tribunal. Hence ‘mandatory’.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Please note that being born in the UK, all my posts, are written using British English spelling.
Centre not center (except in names, Centers of Disease Control) Colour not color Diarrhoea not diarrhea Haematology not hematology Haematopoietic not hematopoietic
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. More recently, he was a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.
* * * * *
Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Ian is not a doctor, so cannot and does not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely his own unless otherwise stated.