- 2019 National Disabled Members' Conference
- 12 July 2019
- Carried as Amended
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was introduced by Government as the replacement for DLA (Disability Living Allowance). PIP assessments are “an opportunity for you to talk about how your condition affects you – it’s not a diagnosis of your condition or a medical examination”.
The health professionals undertaking the assessments have little or no expertise in medical conditions and disability issues. This leads to a lack of understanding during the assessment meaning the information stated on the forms is not 100% accurate. A large majority of assessments are also being based on how the person is at the time and don’t take into account the longer term implications or what happens on a ‘bad day’.
The process for applying for PIP is long, arduous and stressful. There is widespread press coverage of disabled people with quite obvious disabilities who are refused benefit through the PIP process. Hidden/non-apparent disabilities present assessors with conditions they are untrained in and are unfamiliar with the management of. These include Autism Spectrum Disorders, Learning Difficulties and Mental Health Issues. These conditions can be complex and the completion of assessment forms can be extremely challenging.
Assessors are also often unaware of the impact of non-apparent impairments that disproportionately impact on Black disabled people, such as lupus and sickle cell and thalassaemia, and Black disabled applicants can be turned down for PIP as a result.
There is no blanket approach and the process is often prohibitive to people getting PIP. Many disabled members would be unable to complete forms without support and many more would not be aware of the existence of available benefits and support.
Support for people applying for PIP is therefore crucial to enable the documents to be completed with the necessary information and also to provide mental health support.
This conference calls upon the National Disabled Members Committee to:
1)Create guidance materials on the process for PIP assessments and the support channels that can be used during this process.
2)Work with UNISON’s There For You charity to provide information to/for Branch Welfare Officers to be able to signpost members to support services available to those members going through PIP assessments
3)Communicate guidance on disability training to Branches, such as the autism awareness course and encourage Welfare Officers to undertake training and work with UNISON Learning and Organising Services (LAOS) to consider developing Deaf awareness training resources for activists.
4)Campaign for fully trained British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters to be available to Deaf (native BSL) PIP applicants and for Deaf awareness training for Department of Work and Pensions, PIP assessment and call centre staff.