Geoff Prestridge: 1,454 Christmas Day PIP texts shame the Department for Work and Pensions
Earlier this year, I reported how a young mother received an unwelcome – and unexpected – text message on Christmas Day from the Department for Work and Pensions.
She was sent at around 8am and said her eligibility for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was under review. The benefit is paid to those with long-term physical or medical conditions that make doing daily tasks difficult.
Although PIP is not means tested, payments are subject to review. These revisions are often traumatic experiences, sometimes requiring a medical evaluation. It can also result in payments being stopped.
The recipient, who suffers from mental health problems that can only be controlled with powerful epilepsy medications, went into a meltdown as soon as she read the text. She suffered from a panic attack and anxiety issues that ruined her and her family’s holiday.
At the time, I asked JAP whether he thought it was appropriate to send such an insensitive text on a key family day of the year for so many people. She also asked how many text messages she sent on Christmas Day notifying PIP claimants of impending reviews.
Festive spirit: According to the DWP, it sent out 1,454 texts reviewing PIP awards on Christmas Day
Her press office responded by saying that the information she requested was only available through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. Insensitively, he made no comment on the poor timing of the text. Well, I filed a Freedom of Information request and finally got my answers a few days ago. According to the DWP, it sent 1,454 PIP award review texts on Christmas Day.
Of these, 68 award-related cases are about to expire, triggering an automatic review. The remaining 1,386 was the result of a reported change in the person’s circumstances, again requiring a review of the payment. The reader’s text fell into the first camp. While the FOI response did not offer a defense for the tasteless Christmas texts, it said they were for “information only” and did not require any immediate action from recipients.
She also said that all messages are automated and sent during the work week (Monday to Friday). She added: “There is currently no mechanism built into the PIP system to exclude messages sent on a specific date.” In light of the distress the text caused our reader on Christmas Day – and (no doubt) many other recipients – I think it is time for the DWP to reshape its “PIP system”. No PIP review texts should ever be published on December 25, regardless of which day it is Christmas.
As for our reader’s PIP review, it is ongoing. All relevant documents have been sent to the DWP. Her decision is awaited.
Wisdom about the value of protection insurance
Protection insurance, which provides financial comfort cover in the event of a serious illness, is not both bought and sold.
Whether it’s critical illness cover (which pays an agreed tax-free lump sum on a successful claim), income protection (which pays a regular stream of tax-free income) or even standard life insurance, sales are woefully low.
Why? Well, there are very few financial advisors who could be bothered to sell such coverage, preferring instead to look after the investments of the rich and charge them exorbitant fees for the privilege of doing so.
On the other hand, providers, a shy bunch, are very reticent about promoting coverage – with the result that a large segment of the public (young and old) have no idea that financial protection insurance exists. The result of all this is that too many families are ill-equipped to deal with the financial consequences of a serious illness resulting from a breadwinner or housewife.
In short, there is a widening gap between the financial protection families have – and what they should have. This somewhat disturbing picture is confirmed by an informative piece of consumer research just published by CIExpert, a company that specializes in comparing the individual benefits of critical illness policies offered by insurers.
CIExpert asked the audience – of all age groups, from Gen Z to Baby Boomers – a series of questions about securing financial protection. The results were alarming.
According to CIExpert, about two-thirds of consumers have never purchased a critical illness insurance policy – or an income protection plan. About five and seven percent respectively have no idea whether they have obtained or maintained such a cover at all. Misunderstandings about how the cap works are widespread. For example, nearly one in five consumers incorrectly believe that the proceeds of any successful critical illness claim should be used to pay off the mortgage – while 19 per cent believe any payments are taxable (which they are not).
Two-thirds of people don’t realize that premiums are fixed for the term of the policy, which can be 30 or 35 years. Others ignore the other benefits the offerings cover – for example, free annual health checkups and a second medical opinion. Securing protection should be an essential part of our financial arsenal – we simply do not know what lies ahead.
This is exaggerated! Now Land Rover drivers have earned an additional raise
Jaguar Land Rover is somewhat grumpy with insurers over the way it raises premiums for drivers of its luxury cars – and in some cases refuses to cover them.
The company’s anger is understandable given the potential threat to sales. This also explains why the company launched its own insurance cover to keep drivers nice.
Nigel Parker, director of workplace supplier Dennons UK, examines the aggressive approach taken by several insurers for owners of some JLR vehicles.
Outrage: Jaguar Land Rover is somewhat tense with insurers over the way it raises premiums for drivers of its luxury cars
He is driving his fourth Land Rover – a three-year-old Discovery Sport – in 12 years, and recently instructed brokers to offer competitive renewal quotes for it and the Mini Electric. Nigel – and his wife Christy – use both cars in their family business.
In terms of price, the Aviva came out on top, but there was a clause in its packaging that Nigel had never seen before – an additional theft increase (on top of the £250 excess insurance policy), specifically applicable to any Land Rover or A Range Rover with a market value of £25,000 or more.
It states: “In the event of any loss or damage to your vehicle (including accessories and spare parts) due to theft, an additional increase will apply to your claim, calculated as five per cent of the market value of your vehicle at the time of loss. For Nigel, This will result in an additional increase of £1,750.
This extra surplus was included even though Nigel’s car benefited from a security upgrade, resulting in it being less vulnerable to theft.
“I love Land Rover,” says Nigel, who lives in Todmorden, West Yorkshire. “But this brand insurance tirade is testing my love affair to the limit.”
The greatest irony of all is that Jaguar Land Rover’s insurance company was unable to provide Nigel with a quote for his Land Rover.
Stamp duty ready for repair
Stamp duty on home purchases is a tax ripe for reform – and in a Money Mail letter issued last Wednesday, we called on the Chancellor to scrap this tax in next month’s Budget.
The tax represents an obstacle to a properly functioning housing market. It prevents people from moving up the housing ladder as they progress through their working lives – and prevents homeowners from downsizing later in life. In contrast, a vibrant housing market is good for everyone – and a stimulant for the economy. Stamp duty reform would help achieve this.
If you agree – or you or your children are discouraged from moving because of the prospect of a large stamp duty bill, please email me at [email protected]. I am all eyes and ears.
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(tags for translation) Daily Mail