Group File 32 (CPIP/3739/2016)help people with learning difficulties claim points under PIP Descriptor 1.
PIP Descriptor 1 says that people who need supervision or assistance to either prepare or cook a simple meal can claim 4 points. In this case, the claimant had learning difficulties, was unable to read or understand numbers and by the time of the Upper Tribunal decision had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. In the First-Tier Tribunal, he was awarded 4 points under PIP Descriptor 1: it was found that he needed assistance to cook a simple meal because he was unable to read instructions for cooking, read the numbers on a cooker, set temperatures or know how long to cook for, without assistance.
WHAT THE UPPER TRIBUNAL DECIDED
The Upper Tribunal was considering whether the claimant needed assistance in the cooking process. The DWP argued that an inability to read and understand numbers is irrelevant to PIP Descriptor 1 because cooking is “often a sensory and instinctive act” that does not require reading for the majority of the time. In other words, the DWP said that it is possible to see when a pan of water is boiling or when chicken is cooked by checking the colour of the juices, without being able to read or understand numbers.
The Upper Tribunal decided that, when considering an “intellectual deficit”, everything will turn on the individual claimant’s circumstances and difficulties. It said that some people who are unable to tell the time, use timers or read will nevertheless be able to cook simple meals to an adequate standard by noticing changes in the food’s appearance, smell, texture or taste during the cooking process, for instance. Alternatively, a person might not know how long to cook food for at first but can remember the information after it is used once.
On the other hand, the Upper Tribunal recognised that there may be people with learning difficulties who cannot do these things and in such cases, the claimant may be able to claim points under PIP Descriptor 1(e) on needing supervision or assistance to prepare or cook a simple meal.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU
This decision makes it clear that learning difficulties, including an inability to read or understand numbers, are relevant to PIP Descriptor 1 on preparing a simple meal. Everything will turn on your individual circumstances and how your learning difficulties affect you in the cooking process.
Therefore, when claiming PIP points on preparing food, you need to explain how your learning difficulties affect you in the cooking process. Learning difficulties will *not* automatically lead to a conclusion that you need assistance to prepare or cook a meal, so it is not enough to state that you have learning difficulties. However, if you are unable to tell when food is cooked because of your learning difficulties or face other challenges in preparing and cooking food because of your learning difficulties, it would be useful to: (1) explain these challenges and (2) say that, because of these challenges, you need prompting (explaining) or need continuous supervision or assistance to be able to prepare or cook a simple meal.
Note that if you need assistance to prepare or cook something more complicated than a *simple* meal (a cooked one-course meal for one, using fresh ingredients, such as a fry-up), then you will not be able to claim points under PIP Descriptor 9.
The Upper Tribunal made this decision on 29 June 2017 but it’s a clarification of the law rather than a new definition. This means that this decision applies straightaway to your claim, mandatory reconsiderations and appeals, whenever the case was decided. It may take some months before DWP and assessors catch up with this decision, however.
This analysis is brought to you free of charge by BuDS Benefit Information Team. It is only general information and you should take advice on your own case. If you value our entirely voluntary charitable work, please consider making a donation via https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/alexandermcpherson1
You can read the full judgement here: https://www.gov.uk/…/secretary-of-state-for-work-and-pensio…