Not many people know but the Minister for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd first became aware of how challenging life can be with a disability by her father who became blind in 1981.
She saw how her father's life changed after losing his site she is taking this into account when developing policies for the DWP.
The Government intends to change the landscape for disabled people, helping them achieve their potential, lead positive fulfilling lives and to know the support is there when they need it.
Most people with disabilities and long term health conditions have enough challenges in life, dealing with benefits should not be one of them and so the new goal for the DWP is to significantly improve how the DWP supports disabled people.
The first of the changes was to stop the repeated reassessments for those with the most severe lifelong conditions who already receive ESA, UC or PIP at the highest levels. This is because their needs are unlikely to decease. They will now receive an ongoing award with a light touch review a decade later.
The Department is also trialling video recording of PIP assessments, the idea behind it is to make the assessments more transparent for everybody involved. The DWP will also be looking into why appeals are so high.
The DWP are also considering how they can join up processes for ESA and PIP claimants. Whilst not all benefit claimants use both benefits, as some people with disabilities work, it can be frustrating to share similar information multiple times for different claims. It is expected that a digital solution, similar to Universal Credit will be rolled out. The DWP will also be reviewing Statutory Sick Pay and Occupational Health to improve communication between employers, health care and employees.
The announcement Amber Rudd made today was specifically for pensioners, she has confirmed that the DWP will no longer regularly review the PIP awards for claimants who have reached State Pension age unless they tell the DWP that their needs have changed.
This change is likely to affect around 270,000 people with the number expected to increase as more PIP claims are made.
Today's announcement is just the start and I will continue to liaise with the DWP and other bodies to try to ensure that the benefit system is easier, more effective and fully supports those who need the help.