Disability Living Allowance replaced by PIP scheme

 
A wheelchair user People with disabilities will eventually all move over to the new PIP system

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Major changes to disability benefits for new claimants are being introduced in some parts of the UK ahead of a national roll-out of the new measures.

It is the start of the replacement of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) by Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said the current "ridiculous" system where people were given benefit with no further checks must end.

But charity Scope says the changes have been designed just to save money.

That charge has been denied by the government, which says spending will not be reduced, but more help will be given to those who need it most.

There are currently 3.3m people claiming DLA, compared to 1.1m when it was introduced in 1992.

PIPs will be introduced gradually for new claimants, starting in Merseyside, Cumbria, Cheshire and North East England.

Scope says 600,000 people will eventually lose their financial support.

Margaret Allen, who is registered blind: 'People need disability payment'

The disability benefits changes are the latest in a round of welfare reforms introduced at the start of April.

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that more than 70% of claimants get DLA for life.

But ministers believe the circumstances of some individuals can improve over time, so there is a case for more regular assessment.

Mr Duncan Smith told the Daily Mail: "Seventy per cent of people on it have lifetime awards which means no-one sees you ever again. It doesn't matter if you get better or your condition worsens - it's quite ridiculous."

"Taxpayers pay out £50bn in sickness and disability benefits - we're ahead of pretty much every other major country in the G20," he said.

"So this is not exactly what you would call harsh - this is quite reasonable to get it back under control and stop the unnecessary growth levels".

Minister for Disabled People Esther McVey said the PIP would give more targeted support than DLA.

"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit... and needs reform to better reflect today's understanding of disability," she said.

Analysis

The DLA application form is universally dreaded and will be missed by few. Fifty-five pages long, it forces claimants to focus firmly on what they can't do. Simpler paperwork will be broadly welcomed.

But disabled people have concerns about the new face-to-face assessments for PIP, worrying that an assessor won't fully grasp the extent of their needs.

Many have also experienced - or heard - horror stories about controversial Employment Support Allowance assessments carried out by Atos, one of the companies contracted to do PIPs assessments on behalf of the government.

The government says it will continue to spend similar amounts on PIPs as it does on DLA. However, 600,000 people who get DLA now, won't be eligible for PIPs.

There's a general feeling of fear as current claimants try to establish whether they'll receive the new benefit.

"At the moment the vast majority of claimants get the benefit for life without any systematic reassessments and around 50% of decisions are made on the basis of the claim form alone".

"The Personal Independence Payment will include a new face-to-face assessment and regular reviews - something missing in the current system. This will ensure the billions we spend give more targeted support to those who need it most."

'Lifeline cut'

New claimants in the north of England will now begin face-to face assessments with Atos - one of two firms administering the process.

One of the new assessment criteria that has been heavily criticised is tougher rules to judge how far a person can walk.

Under the new regulations, claimants who are unable to walk more than 20m will qualify for the benefit, rather than the previous distance of 50m.

From June, new claims will be treated under the PIP system elsewhere - and in October some current DLA claimants will start moving to PIP if their circumstances change or an existing award ends.

But it will be two years before most existing claimants begin moving to PIP.

Even before the majority of the face-to-face re-assessments have taken place, the government claims the introduction of PIPs will reduce spending by a total of £2.2bn between now and May 2016 compared to spending projected under an unchanged system.

BBC reporter Emma Tracey said the 55-page DLA application form will not be missed, but that many disabled people have concerns that PIP assessors will not be able to fully grasp the extent of their needs.

One of those facing the changes is Margaret Allen, of Chadderton in Lancashire, who is registered blind with the hereditary eye disorder Retinitis pigmentosa and is unable to work.

She is worried the reforms will cause her to lose money for petrol, which she and her husband need to get around.

"My message to the government would be: 'Stop persecuting the entire sick and disabled population for a handful of people and listen.

"'People need it, they paid taxes.'"

Disability groups have argued that DLA is one of the most effectively targeted benefits, with an estimated fraud rate of just 0.5%.

Scope says DLA does need to be reformed but the new changes mean a "financial lifeline is being cut".

The charity's chief executive, Richard Hawkes, said: "Day-to-day life can be more expensive if people are disabled. These are tough times for everybody and times are even tougher if your everyday life experience is more expensive.

"The assessment itself has been designed to achieve a budget target of the reductions that the government talked about in the Comprehensive Spending Review. They said there was going to be a 20% reduction, then developed an assessment that will deliver that.

"The assessment looks at an individual's condition, the health or medical condition of an individual, it doesn't look at what the fuller picture is and what the additional cost might be of being a disabled person."

Ms McVey denied that the government had any targets to reduce spending.

"We will be spending more in 2015-16 than we are spending now, and it will remain at approximately £13bn every year, so what the difference is and what the big reduction is in is actually in the growth of the number of people getting the benefit, which had gone up 35% in 10 years," she said.

She added that the changes are "about the fact that we couldn't have, by 2018, one in 17 people in the public on the benefit".

 

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  • rate this
    +22

    Comment number 28.

    The problem is not that benefits are to high it's that employers are allowed to pay below a living wage which gets compensated for by paying tax credits. The majority of people on benefits are already in work albeit that the minimum wage is inadequate due to a 25% fall in the value of money over the last 5 years brought about by inflation caused by QE and a clueless useless lacklustre government.

  • rate this
    +33

    Comment number 27.

    I have a friend in Hastings who was forced to take early retirement on medical grounds through no fault of his own. He can't drive, has no qualifications and has to rely on his wife to drive him around as well as shop. If ATOS declare him fit to work, WHO WILL WANT TO EMPLOY HIM! Not everyone wants to be on benefits or is a 'so called' scrounger.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 26.

    The number of benefit claimants across the whole spectrum is a national disgrace. Does anybody really believe that 3.3 million people in this relatively small country are disabled? I seem to remember similar problems with the Motability scheme not long ago. I've no problem with the genuinely disabled, but not 3.3 million claimants - time for a crackdown.

  • rate this
    +69

    Comment number 25.

    For many years, successive governments (of all colours) actively encouraged a culture of putting people on long-term sick benefit to hide the true levels of unemployment.

    The system needs an overhaul to ensure that the genuine sick and disabled receive the help they need, and those that are not sick and disabled are classified correctly.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 24.

    Something has to be done to stem the flow of fraudulent claims, not only for disability but also other benefits. How about a re-check of the system of disability stickers for motorists which is also being widely abused.
    Hopefully this is just a start but the unions and socialists are already wringing their hands at the prospect. The country is bankrupt, we can not afford the present benefits bill.

  • rate this
    +27

    Comment number 23.

    Why show someone in a wheel chair as an example of disability benefits ? Show someone with a back, limping to the dole office or, like my neighbour; cleaning his windows up a ladder while his wife cleans his new disability granted car! Parked in the drive of their free house paid by the workers!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 22.

    You can bet if/when the opponents of the benefits system fall upon hard times they will soon change their tune. And when it happens, it will be too late now. They had their chance to keep the system fair, but instead fought to make it unfair. Now the elite have taken even more money from the vulnerable to pay for the mess their cohorts and sponsors got us all into. Criminals.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 21.

    4.FishOnADish
    Come on, there can't be 3.3 million adults out of 50 million that are disabled.

    You are absolutely correct. There aren't 3.3 million disbaled in the UK. The number is just over 11 million.

    Source: http://odi.dwp.gov.uk/disability-statistics-and-research/disability-facts-and-figures.php#gd

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 20.

    1.5million people have disappeared from the claimant count since changes were made to the assessment process. This brings the entire system into disrepute and damages public confidence in the whole idea of helping people who cannot help themselves. Administrative failure lies at the heart of this issue just as it does with so many of our difficulties in the NHS.

  • rate this
    +36

    Comment number 19.

    PIP will be very hard to claim - DLA already is. This thread will be full of the usual "I know somebody" anecdotes, but as somebody who has worked in benefits for many years, disability benefits are not the free for all they are made out to be.

    Let's also remember that DLA/PIP are claimed by people in employment too - it's a non-means tested benefit for the extra costs of being disabled.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 18.

    DLA is far too easy to claim. Most of us know of folks who claim to be disabled, who are fit enough to find work. They chose DLA as it’s money for nothing. Mother in law suffered from a “bad back”. All that was required was a periodic complaint to the docto. Next door neighbour “suffered from nerves”. Never worked.
    It’s genuine cases that suffer because of shysters.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 17.

    To believe there is no abuse is naive, so there is always room for scrutinisation.
    One example of abuse is the "miracle of Thorpe amusement park". Those in wheelchairs get preferrential queuing treatment (along with "carers"). To see how many people get out of their wheelchair at the end of the day and walk briskly to their cars, is truly a miracle that Jesus would have been proud of!.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 16.

    The problem is that is impossible remove the benefits from the number of people who are not entitled to them without re-examining everyone. As a result hopefully those who are permanently disabled should be properly identified. Over time some of the criteria may need adjusting based on experience

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 15.

    So, who actually believes IDS, when he claimed he could live on £53 a week ?

    This silly little man, who married a millionaire, isn't living in the real world. He has no concept of hardship, hence his despicable bashing of the disabled.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 14.

    NW1837@7 "When we ( taxpayers ) pay out £50 BILLION..."

    Can I have my taxes back that paid for your education?

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 13.

    DLA clearly does need reform - these numbers are insane. I just hope they do it a lot more intelligently than the Bedroom Tax, and don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 12.

    Of course these should be reviewed.

    Working practices change and people can train for other jobs - no one is being sent down the pit or up a chimney - but many could do office work, data entry etc, even with some disabilities.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 11.

    The difficulty is making sure those who need the help get it and those that are taking advantage of the system stop. In my street alone at least 2 people claim full disability, when there is nothing to stop either of them working, while a man with a genuine disability (a false leg) walks 3 miles to work.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 10.

    According to DWP statistics there are disproportionately more people claiming sickness benefit in poor areas than affluent. Why is this, and why do so many interested pressure groups moan at ANY whiff of reform or reassessment of the situation?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 9.

    Our current welfare/benefits bill is unaffordable so reductions have to be made.Mistakes will be made along the way but as long as those genuinely in need are looked after then so be it.

 

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