Support the petition to stop the dangerous merger of tests for PIP and ESA/Universal Credit
On 5 March 2019, benefits Minister Amber Rudd announced at a Scope conference that the DWP would develop a single digital system – online like Universal Credit — for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payments (PIP), and have an integrated assessment for ESA and PIP from 2021. This means more destitution and deaths!
We’re supporting Lisa Egan’s petition “Don’t merge the assessments for PIP and ESA”
Please sign and circulate widely. Lisa says:
“My concerns about merging the assessments are threefold. Firstly I’m concerned about people who may be eligible for one benefit but not the other (for example PIP claimants in work) getting turned down for the one benefit they should be eligible for, seeing as they’re not eligible for both.
Secondly I’m concerned about people currently claiming both, who are considering stopping their ESA claim to move into work; that they may end up also having their PIP stopped upon taking a job, even though they should remain on PIP. The withdrawal of that PIP support may trigger a loss of help resulting in them being unable to take a job after all.
And finally I have grave concerns about people who are claiming both, but get one wrongly stopped until an appeal reinstates it. At the moment, while waiting for a PIP appeal, one can still be receiving ESA, or vice versa. If someone gets both benefits stopped at the same time, that would be a very difficult circumstance to survive.”
Ms H, whom WinVisible has helped, adds: “I think the merging of ESA and PIP would put a lot of people in a lot of problems. If this was how it was when my PIP was stopped, well, I would have had nothing. I would get into arrears with my rent and might end up losing my tenancy. If I’d have had both benefits stopped at that time I wouldn’t be here now. I would definitely have killed myself. I have a history of self-harm including taking overdoses of tablets where it’s put me in intensive care four times, three times on a respirator. I shudder at the thought of this merger. It must be stopped. I feel like they are doing these things to put people like myself out of the equation.”
Online claims exclude many people, including if we rely on libraries to access the internet. We lose benefit when claims are not completed, we struggle to get to the library, to the Jobcentre to confirm our identity, etc. The Work and Pensions Committee of MPs received over 4,000 testimonies from disabled claimants and organisations for their inquiry into the ESA and PIP tests. Chair Frank Field MP criticises the government for repeatedly dismissing the MPs’ grave concerns about vulnerable claimants’ suffering. Read Frances Ryan in the Guardian.
The government plans to extend the power of profiteer assessment companies over our lives. They opened bidding by companies for new seven-year contracts worth £3.1 billion. The notorious assessor companies Atos, Capita and Maximus have received millions for contracts and are implicated in many deaths.
While Scope has cautiously welcomed Amber Rudd’s speech they are wary of the pitfalls: “. . . it’s vital that the Government recognise that assessments can and do go wrong and if a single assessment for two benefits goes wrong, the impact on the living standards of an individual could be much more severe.”