Ian Noon: Is the Government telling deaf people to PIP off on disability benefits?

Posted on February 28, 2012

It took me a while but I finally read through the Department for Work and Pension’s consultation on the eligibility criteria for the new benefits for disabled people, Personal Independence Payments. Otherwise known as PIP.

To be fair, there were three, rather long documents, to read through to understand what was being proposed. And I’m still not sure I’ve got it.

For those that don’t know, PIP is the new DLA (Disability Living Allowance), a benefit for disabled people to fund the various additional costs associated with being disabled.

Though the Government keep implying otherwise, it’s not linked to employment status. PIP will be introduced from next spring for disabled young people aged 16+. Disabled children have a stay of execution and will remain on DLA for now.

The Government have confirmed that when the move to PIP happens, 500,000 disabled people will lose their PIP. Yup, that’s half a million people who will be worse off. And looking at the guidance, it seems that many deaf people will be among the losers.

This is because in order to get the new “standard” rate of PIP, a deaf person would have to show that they couldn’t understand “basic” information when communicating out and about. Difficulties in understanding anything more than basic information will, on its own, not get you the points you need to qualify.

Examples given in the document seem to suggest that only deaf people who communicate entirely and solely in sign language will be eligible for the new PIP. Everyone else, it would seem, nothing.

Ministers at the Department for Work and Pensions recently said that deafness was a “moderate” disability. The policy intention is that funding needs to be taken away from deaf people and given to those with more severe disabled needs. This is obviously a rather narrow way to frame political choices.

It’s also an approach that treats deaf people as being less “deserving” of support, regardless of any additional support that may be needed to understand more than just “hello” and “bye bye” and which ignores the additional costs and disadvantages associated with being deaf in a hearing world.

The National Deaf Children’s Society have drafted a short guide on what the changes might mean for deaf young people. This also include some tips and suggestions on how to respond to the consultation.

If you think the changes are unfair, I would encourage you to have your say and ask the Government to raise the threshold of support to make sure deaf people get the help they need.

This article was originally posted on Ian Noon’s own blog, Musings from a deaf campaigner.
Ian Noon has been profoundly deaf since birth, giving him an interesting perspective “on what needs to change for deaf children and young people in the UK. It also means I have very questionable taste in music.” When he’s not stealing the biscuits in the office, he runs, does yoga and plans his next backpacking holiday. He works for a deaf charity but his views expressed on his blog and here, are his own.

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Posted in: ian noon, opinion
2 Responses “Ian Noon: Is the Government telling deaf people to PIP off on disability benefits?” →
  1. It was always going to go in this direction. The government pretend that this is all about fairness, improvement and modernisation, but the real intention was revealed by George Osborne in his spending review, when he stated that he was going to make a 20% cut in DLA.

    I understand that it is unlawful to treat some disabled people less favourably than other disabled people. If so, then I hope Deaf charities will take legal action once they are able to do so.

  2. My boyfriend thinks I won’t loose support what I currently have. But from reading what I have and trying to explain this to my boyfriend, who still thinks I will get it. I doubt once changes are in place that I will. And like many others will find.

    I know my welfare rights officer will support me like before, when it comes round to this change and being re-assessed, and appealing. But confidence in still geting help is low like many other disabled people are feeling this present time.