On Monday 6th March, leading sensory loss charities Thomas Pocklington Trust, Sense and Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) hosted an event in the Houses of Parliament to launch their report entitled “Experiences of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for People with Sensory Loss”.
The report was produced by the three charities in partnership with NatCen, Britain’s leading independent social research institute. The report highlights the experiences of people living with sensory loss, in navigating the PIP process. While it revealed that people with sensory loss eventually received a positive financial outcome following the switch to PIP from Disability Living Allowance, it also highlighted that the journey through the process for people living with sensory loss was overwhelmingly negative. Issues with the accessibility of the ‘one size fits all’ approach were brought to light, along with a “confusing” PIP2 claim form and a troublesome experience in the face-to-face assessment, most notably a lack of sensitivity from assessors.
The launch event was attended by MPs, representatives of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and key stakeholders from across the sector. The event was sponsored by Nusrat Ghani MP, chair of the APPG on Eye Health and Visual Impairment. The report was welcomed by Lord Low who spoke at the event and endorsed the importance of working with people with sensory loss to improve their access to, and navigation of, the PIP system
The report has a series of recommendations and urges DWP to work with Thomas Pocklington Trust, Sense and RNIB to promptly address key concerns and ensure that all PIP applicants, including people with sensory loss, have a positive and straight forward experience.
Lord Low of Dalston said:
“I would like to thank Thomas Pocklington Trust, RNIB and Sense who commissioned this research and NatCen Social Research, who carried it out. It’s hard to think of an issue which would be more important for visually impaired people. The research being launched today is invaluable in highlighting the problems in the PIP application process for visually impaired people, and in helping to bring about improvements.
“I support the recommendations made in this report, and I hope that DWP will be willing to work with sensory loss organisations to make the necessary changes to improve the process and the experience of people with sensory loss.
“I hope everyone will show their support in doing what they can to get behind this report and help make the PIP application process more straightforward and above all more accessible for people with sensory loss.”
Marsha de Cordova, Engagement and Advocacy Director, Thomas Pocklington Trust said:
“We are pleased to have launched our report in Parliament today in conjunction with Sense, RNIB and NatCen. It is absolutely vital that people with sensory loss are able to easily navigate the PIP system, and we look forward to working with the Government on our recommendations to guarantee a smooth transition between Disability Living Allowance and PIP.”
Fazilet Hadi, Director of Engagement at RNIB, said:
“Blind and partially sighted people should be able to expect an accessible PIP application process, with all information provided in their required format, and assessments carried out sympathetically and accurately by trained staff. The DWP has a responsibility for making sure this happens.”
Jasmine Basran, Policy Advisor at Sense, said:
“The experience of PIP assessments for people with complex needs are overwhelmingly negative and cause unnecessary stress, which leads to high appeal rates. Assessors lack knowledge and sensitivity of complex conditions like deafblindness and this leads to poor practice, including people with complex needs receiving information and PIP forms in inaccessible formats, and making assumptions about capabilities based on inaccurate tests. The DWP must review the PIP process and take responsibility for the quality of training, including increasing specialist knowledge among assessors, as a first step to improving the PIP process.”
The full report and research findings can be found on our website here.
Photo caption: Lord Low speaking at the PIP launch at House of Parliament