Personal Independence Payment

We’ve been campaigning to ensure that people affected by cancer get quicker access to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefits, helping to ensure they can access vital support at a time when they need it most, and that welfare reforms do not lead to a reduction in financial support available.

What is PIP?

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a benefit for people aged 16–64 with a long-term disability. It has replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in England, Scotland and Wales.

Reducing waiting times for access to PIP

Following the roll-out of PIP across England, Scotland and Wales for new claimants in June 2013, our benefit advice services had begun to report serious concerns about the time it took to process applications from people with cancer.

We found claims were taking up to 40 weeks to process. We campaigned for people affected by cancer to get quicker access to PIP, helping to ensure they can access vital support at a time when they need it most. Our policy report, Waiting to benefit [PDF], was launched on 16 June 2014. It outlined Macmillan’s research on how PIP was working for people living with cancer in its first year. It included recommendations for government on how the system might be improved. Read the Executive Summary of the findings [PDF].

In 2015, Macmillan convinced the government to publish PIP waiting times, enabling us to assess its action to reduce delays. In July 2015, the government announced that waiting times for PIP had reduced to 11 weeks. By April 2016 there had been a slight increase to 13 weeks. We’re continuing to monitor waiting times to ensure that we can hold government to account if they rise again.

Macmillan are working with the DWP to continuously look at ways of improving the quality and speed of decision making and we sit on the DWP, PIP Improvements Working Group and PIP Implementation Stakeholder Forum (ISF) to enable us to continue to ensure that people with cancer are able to access support without delays.

PIP statistics are published on the Gov.uk website.

We found claims were taking up to 40 weeks to process.

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Campaign success for people with terminal cancer

Following the roll-out of PIP across England, Scotland and Wales for new claimants in June 2013, we found claims for terminally ill patients were taking up to 10 weeks to process. This was an unacceptable situation. We raised these concerns immediately with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). In November 2013, our concerns were covered by the BBC.

In December 2013, Disability Minister, Mike Penning, gave evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee telling them he wanted to see claims processed within 7 working days. Data shows waiting times for terminally ill people are now taking an average of 6 working days.

In January 2014, we published a briefing on the issues facing terminally ill cancer patients.

Macmillan has also been highlighting the impact on people with cancer of rules that apply when peple transfer from the old benefit DLA to PIP. As a result, in February 2016, the government announced that it will be making changes to ensure that people with a terminal illness, including cancer, will get faster access to PIP when they transfer from DLA.

This means that when people who are terminally ill transfer from the old benefit DLA to PIP, they will no longer have to wait 28 days or more, helping to ensure they can access vital support at a time when they need it most.

We’re delighted that the government listened to our concerns and agreed to make this much needed change.

We found claims for terminally ill patients were taking up to 10 weeks to process.

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Proposed changes to PIP eligibility criteria

  • In the 2016 budget the Chancellor outlined plans to change the eligibility criteria for PIP. This could have made it harder for people with cancer to claim the benefit. It would have meant that vulnerable people who are unable to dress themselves or go to the toilet unaided might have missed out on essential financial support.
  • However, in the week following the budget the government announced that it would scrap these proposals. The news followed the government’s decision to go ahead with plans to cut Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) payments by £125 a month for some people with cancer, despite widespread concerns raised by many, including 7,000 Macmillan supporters who wrote to their MPs on the issue.
  • We’ve welcomed the decision to shelve planned changes to PIP eligibility criteria – Read our response to the news here. However, we now urge the government to reconsider the damaging changes to ESA. Find out more about our campaign.

The government announced that it would scrap these proposals.

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Denise, from Cricklewood, experienced long delays in accessing Personal Independence Payments after her treatment for breast cancer.

'When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 I tried to access PIP. I got the application in June 2013.' 

'With Tracey’s help, the Macmillan benefits advisor at the Royal Free, I completed the forms. She talked me through them, explained and even helped me to fill them out. I submitted the form in October 2013. There was so much waiting and waiting. I had so much else going on; there was a lot of phoning and chasing.'

'I didn’t get a response until March 2014. In the end it was worth waiting for but it was a very long process and wait. Going through the ordeal of breast cancer, any health issue, doesn’t help. It made me even more anxious and it felt like you were begging; always proving you were suitable for this and that.'

It felt like you were begging; always proving you were suitable for this and that.

Denise, from Cricklewood