National deafblind charity Sense has responded to the government announcement that it will push forward with plans to change the eligibility criteria for people applying to receive the Personal Independence Payment.
Under the proposed changes, people who qualify for the benefit due to their use of ‘aids and adaptions’ will be far less likely to score enough points to qualify for the benefit.
Sense has raised concerns that the proposal will adversely affect the lives of the deafblind and disabled people that the charity supports.
People with sensory disabilities often rely on a range of aids and adaptions to help with daily living, including items such as hearing aids, long canes, vibrating alarms and magnifiers, and many will face significant additional costs because of their impairments.
The government has focused on achieving short term savings by seeking further reductions in PIP expenditure without considering the longer term consequences. If people are left without this essential support to meet the extra costs of their disability, they will inevitably become more dependent on other services in future.
Kate Fitch, Head of Public Policy at Sense said:
“We are concerned that changes to the PIP assessment criteria will mean a reduction in vital financial support for many people with sensory impairments.
A reduced income may mean that some individuals will be left without the essential support they need to pay for the extra costs of their disability. This may include communication support, technology to access information and the costs of basic daily living.
People with sensory impairments often depend on aids and appliances to live an independent life and play an active role in their community. The government must urgently consider the likely impact of these changes on people with sensory impairments and introduce concessions.”
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