English is my first language but I tend to fill all official forms in Welsh. Welsh is my wife's first language, but she doesn't like using Welsh forms or help lines, because she worries that those reading / translating /answering them might know her personally; she prefers the anonymity of dealing with English officials. (An interesting point; but not the subject of this post). A few years ago I filled in an English application on her behalf for Disability Living Allowance. Recently she has received a claim form for the replacement benefit Personal Independence Payment.
There are some glaring differences between the two forms.
The old DLA forms use to carry the Plain English Crystal Mark. The PIP form doesn't, which isn't surprising because it fails the Plain English test. It is full of yes or no questions that can't be answered by yes or no (commonly referred to in legal cases as a Do you still beat your wife? Questions – a Yes is bad but a No suggests that you use to beat her!)
Trick questions like Do you use a wheelchair to move around safely? Do I answer "YES" I use a wheelchair or "No" I am unable to use my wheelchair to move around safely, but with the No suggesting that I don't use a wheelchair?
Most benefit claim forms have, historically, either on the front page or the back page, a section to declare that Z has filled this form on X's behalf, the PIP form doesn't. There are millions of people living with a disability who can't read or write; so a third party answers the questions "as if" the claimant was answering.
On page 25 (not page 1) there is a question about reading and writing. How could anybody get to page 25 without the ability to read and write? Panic stations, there must be a section in the front or back of the form to say "I filled in the form on my wife's behalf". NO!!! So she read and wrote 3/4 of the form without difficulty? SHE has to sign the statutory statement, whether she has a clue what "I" have written or not!
Sorry, but this form is bollocks of the umph degree, designed to fail claimants rather than to enable claimants to get their entitlement. Benefits forms are supposed to enable applicants to obtain due legal entitlement to benefit. The PIP form is designed to frustrate legal entitlement, so the form fails in law. If the form fails in law, every rejected claim also fails in law!
If my wife's claim fails I am minded to take her claim to the ECHR and will be asking for crowd funding.
If her claim succeeds, without the need for review or appeal, we will donate her first month's payment to a crowd fund that enables those refused PIP to mount a legal challenge to the whole damned system.