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A former top civil servant who has a terminal illness has condemned the PIP assessment system a ‘hostile environment”.
Andrew McDonald was head of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority until ill health forced him to retire in 2014. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2007 and in 2010 with incurable prostate cancer.
He was awarded PIP with 11 points for daily living in 2015 and received the same score on review in 2017.
In March of this year, however, a further review awarded him only 2 points, in spite of the fact that his Parkinson’s has continued to deteriorate.
McDonald said that the system failed to take account of the way his condition fluctuates:
“I got dressed today without too much trouble, though my cufflinks eluded me. Two days ago, it took me 90 minutes because of the tremor in my hands, my lack of strength. Putting on jackets is a nightmare.
“That sort of variation from day to day could be captured in the system but, in practice, the people in the system I was working with were not capturing it.”
The decision to award only 2 points was upheld at mandatory reconsideration on the grounds that it was ‘surprising’ that the assessment had shown that his degenerative condition had improved, but it was now up to him to prove it hadn’t.
McDonald told the Guardian:
“I was shocked by the way this was being administered against the interests of some of the most disadvantaged people in the country. PIP is beset by profound administrative failures which work to the disadvantage of disabled people.
“My personal interactions with the process were perfectly pleasant; but the system as a whole does create the impression of it being a hostile environment and one where two of the foes are complexity and the sense that it is not a level playing field.”