Why disability benefits are a bisexual issue

The Big Issue have reported today on statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions that show it is rejecting 89 per cent of the appeals for Personal Independence Payment that are brought through the mandatory reconsideration process. This has increased from 40 per cent in 2021.

Mandatory reconsideration is the process by which claimants can ask the DWP to look again at PIP claims that have been rejected at the first stage. There is then a further appeals process to tribunal that claimants can go through.

Sadly, this comes as no surprise to us, or anyone else who is involved with the contemporary welfare system. We are now at the stage of our research where we are speaking to welfare rights advisors, and just about every person we spoke to discussed, without prompting, their work to help people with their PIP claims initially, and then supporting people through the mandatory reconsideration and appeals process.

As disability activists have highlighted for years – PIP is not a benefit designed to support people who are disabled. It is a degrading system designed to prevent government expenditure helping the most vulnerable in society.

Our research also shows that the problems with the administration of PIP are also bisexual problems. Previous analysis has shown that bisexuals have considerably lower wellbeing that heterosexuals and lesbians and gays.

Our analysis has also shown that bisexuals are more likely to claim disability and sickness related benefits even when we control for long-term ill-health and disability. Bisexuals are more likely to claim PIP, therefore the system disproportionately negatively impacts bisexuals. This should be in the Equality Impact Assessment for PIP as sexual orientation is a protected characteristic. We know from experience though that most Equality Impact Assessments just state “no evidence” in the sexual orientation box. One of the key outputs of this project will be a guide to completing Equality Impact Assessments regarding sexual and gender identity for organisations involved in supporting people experiencing income poverty.

Theme by the University of Stirling