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"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit...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.


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

    Comment number 68.

    There is no limit on how much could potentially be spent on those with disability to lift their qualify of life to be on a par with those with normal abilities. So it the end of the day it comes down to what the country can afford...with proportionately more being spent in good times and cutting back in less good times. We are currently in less good times.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    IDS won his seat when 22,000 people voted for him.
    470,000 vote for him to live on the £7.57 he says others should live on.
    But this he claims is just a stunt? that's 20 to 1!!!
    Come on IDS show the lazy scroungers that it can be done!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    I suspect that back in the 80s and 90s many people were moved off unemployment benefit and into DLA in order to reduce the politically sensitive unemployment rates by which governments were judged at that time. I cannot accept that nearly 1 in 17 of working age people are genuinely unfit to work in any capacity due to illness or disability.

    Disability groups should be supporting this change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    With 53m people in the UK, having 3.3m disabled is actually not alot, and some of those 3.3m work already.

    We need to be helping these people and not destroying their lives because of a tiny amount of fraudsters. Being assessed in a small interview with an untrained administrator is appauling, and many will end up dying on the job.

    WE cannot judge people by looking at them, neither can ATOS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    For those accusing the government of bullying, what do you suggest as an alternative to making changes to the system? Tiresome reading supposed opinions that offer no alternative solution at all. If you don't have a solution perhaps it's because you have no idea how complex a problem it is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    I work in IT, a field where talented but disabled people can work comfortably. Sadly too many of their jobs have been outsourced to India where equally talented people work for peanuts. If companies who outsourced UK jobs to cheaper countries were penalised financially, my disabled colleagues wouldn't be losing their jobs in the UK or need to claim benefits here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    There is a collective responsibility to support those who are disabled in a having a decent life.

    There is also the principle that those who can work should have access to work that pays a decent wage. There used to be a quota on employers to have 3% disabled in their workforce. This needs to be brought back.

    Wherever possible the disabled must be facilitated to help themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    I see the tory faithfull are commenting in force, Nasty party doesn't even come close.
    No problem with cuts but the language this government is using to set one part of society against the other is beyond contempt,
    In a few months when all the cuts bite, I predict a poll tax moment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    So 800k+ disabled people became able-bodied of their own accord when proper testing came in, another 800k+ deemed fit to work full-time, another 3-400k fit to work part time, only 15% deemed genuinely unfit to work. How does that not tell a story of abuse? It is a shame that these 85% scroungers give those in need such a bad name, and shocking that we have been giving them money for nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    This is a rare example of the government getting something right. It's obvious that many people register as disabled because of some minor problem that doesn't prevent them from working or leading a fairly normal life. Apparently many claims aren't even checked, which is disgraceful. If this abuse were stopped it should (in theory) enable the genuine and deserving disabled to be paid more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Neil i understand my friend, They have no intention of getting people into work who cant its to remove money from them if the do not look for it. Sad really as we have a corrupt royal bunch of REAL LAYABOUTS .That do nothing all day but feed of the poor. I will say it AGAIN .

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    @30.ken ''0.5% fraud''

    On a recent holiday to Devon, I counted the number of disabled badges on cars in one road, as opposed to those without. The number with a disability, represented by these cars was over 75%. I know this isn't a true science, but I wonder how many of those with a disabled badge (and obtaining free parking), were actually disabled.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    I agree that the system needs to be sorted out but I'm uncomfortable about the way IDS plans to do it.

    For all those who are "found" to be ineleigible for PIP, does anyone really think they'll just walk into a job and not need state support?

    It's just seems the Govt are reclassifing people to save cash & make themselves look good for the next election...

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    I think times have changed. At one time, you were probably not able to work with certain ailments.

    This country now has so many service jobs which require no physical effort except sitting down and typing, so i think a lot of people who previously were unable to work, could now do some sort of work.

    I think the hardest thing is to change peoples mindset to accept this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.


    DLA is not the same as Incapacity Benefit/ESA. DLA cannot be blamed for masking unemployment figures as it is claimed, without financial prejudice, by people both in and out of work. PIP will be along the same lines, but will be subject to more rigorous testing and more frequent reviews.

    The DWP expects to lose 20% of claimants and it doesn't back that with evidence, so it's really a cut.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    The money lost from corporate tax avoidance and evasion dwarves the amount lost from benefit fraud, but the government does nothing about it, and focuses only on targeting the most vulnerable in our so-called society. The UK public is cheering on from the sidelines. Meanwhile, the richest get a big fat tax cut.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Gov't own figures show fraud rate for DLA is consistantly well under 1%. More is lost to DWP mistakes than fraud.

    DLA paid for my powered wheelchair and a hoist to get it in and out of the car. Without this I have no independence at all.

    Don't confuse fraud with changing the criteria for eligibility. If 20% fewer qualify under PIP it doesn't mean that 20% of DLA claims were fraudulant.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    3.3 million disabled? That seems to be a very high percentage. C'mon, someone is having a larf, aren't they? If true, it seems to me that the logical conclusion is that something is dramatically wrong with the system and/or the definition of disabled. 3.3 million? There are clearly going to be a percentage of genuine disabled unable to live, work & enjoy life as the rest of us, but 3.3 million?


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