More support needed for “Personal Independence Payments” claimants
In the last 12 months alone over 800 disabled people have called on local charity, Citizens Advice Halton for support to claim “PIP” and Disability Living Allowance to help them cover the increased costs associated with their disability.
According to research by national charity SCOPE, disabled people spend an average of £550 a month on disability related expenditure, including increased energy bills, specialist equipment and insurance. However for hundreds of people in Halton, this essential lifeline to being able to lead an independent life is set to get much harder.
Hitesh Patel, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Halton said;
“The Government is changing the assessment criteria of the daily living component of PIP and there is a lot of concern expressed both locally and by national charities that the proposed changes to the benefit system will see many people, especially those with mental health issues, learning disabilities and autism who face just as severe barriers and costs as those with other impairments, finding it much harder to get the financial support they really need.
“The Government is proposing these changes to the assessment criteria because they say they want to ensure it is targeted to the people who need it most. Our hope is that the Department for Work and Pensions will also consider investing in a local independent information and advice services like Citizens Advice. A PIP application form is daunting, it is around 40 pages long and can take 1 to 2 hours to complete and without specialist help, and many disabled people are put off making a claim for support.
“Last year we helped over 160 people with their appeals after their initial claim was rejected so we know getting state support is not easy and far too often an incorrect initial decision is made. Having a fair and accessible disability benefits support system is essential for people with poor health, it helps them to lead independent lives that many us take for granted.”
Citizens Advice Halton is now recruiting local people to join their volunteer advisor training programme so that they can help even more people. Anyone wishing to find out more should email firstname.lastname@example.org.