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"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit...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
    -1

    Comment number 88.

    This seems to be very popular legislation; I am no Tory but it seems a brave move and a step in the right direction. Sure any fair minded person would accept that the genuinely needy require protection but the reality is that a significant minority of this money can’t be justified and has to go. As for 3.3m disabled people in the country, plain tommy rot

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 87.

    Over 3m people claim they are disabled. Come on, really. The benefit is supposed to help real disabled people. Not people with sore backs and lazy no good for nothings who think it is there right to be looked after by the state. Get out and get a job. My back is killing me. Like many others with a sore back I would never consider it the states job to pay me for my ailment. Unfortunately many do

  • rate this
    +17

    Comment number 86.

    The goverment should be in the business of revitalising the economy and promoting growth not cutting off help for those in need of it.

    We lose far more in tax evasion and aggressive, unspirited avoidance schemes than we will ever make in cutting the costs of caring for our neighbours who need help.

  • rate this
    +56

    Comment number 85.

    For the third and final time - DLA is the not the same as Incapacity Benefit and ESA!

    DLA (and PIP) is claimed by people both in and out of work - even if somebody finds a job, they keep 100% of the their DLA as it is for the extra costs of being disabled, not for living costs. Living costs are covered by means-tested benefits and wages!

    Please stick to the facts.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 84.

    What we require for our disabled citizens (working or not) is clear support to mitigate the effects of their disabilities on day-to-day living... and this begins with recognition by our hirelings in government of our duty as a nation to provide such support - rather than the flagrant failures to meet any obligations to citizens currently being displayed.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 83.

    I bet more money is lost in Tax Evasion by the wealthy than is lost in Disability Payments...Funny how very little is being done to make sure the rich are clamped down on, & made to pay their due taxes, in full. As someone on PAYE my tax is dedected in full, at source, if I were rich I would have a smart accountant makingsure I paid very little. Thatis the real injustice here, not the sick x

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 82.

    This system is routinely abused. Have you noticed how in the last ten years so many younger people walk with sticks and crutches? Don't tell me these are all genuine. They are on some form of benefit and the stick / cruch is for public display. Replace this benefits culture with a jobs culture. The government must provide more work opportunities.

    At the same time tighten checks on disability.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 81.

    I really don't see what the disability rights campaigner have to complain about. It will be one payment instead of multiple, and those with the greatest need will get more. The only thing they seem to have to complain about is the fact that they will be assessed now and then. That doesn't seem unreasonable, people who are genuinely ill have nothing to fear!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 80.

    Not sure I see why the change was required.
    There has been a purge of false claimants within the last few years because all the claimants were interviewed and examined by a medic?
    If that process was fit for purpose, there are no scroungers left claiming.
    Which means the change is a ploy to make disable people's lives even more miserable.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 79.

    The people that will be hit hardest by this are couples, one of whom stays home with the kids getting DLA (it's not means tested). They will have taken out a mortgage on the assumption that the extra income was for life.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 78.

    It's a mindset and the scourge of entitlement that blights our society nowadays. If you can walk from your disabled parking bay, after getting out of your car unaided, into & around the supermarket pushing your trolley then how on earth are you disabled? I can't run the 100 metres in under 18 seconds but I'm not disabled just slower than the others...

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 77.

    Fingers crossed these interviews are constructive. I have a disabled wife that suffers with MS. One minute she can look fine and the next she cant stand, cut food, wash etc. She is desperate to work but no employer will employ her as her condition is random. It changes hourly not daily or weekly

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 76.

    "52.doctor-at-sea
    The money lost from corporate tax avoidance and evasion dwarves the amount lost from benefit fraud"

    Tax avoidance is legal, benefit fraud is illegal and I bet you haven't any clue at all about the amount of tax lost through corporate tax evasion.

    Your post is just shrill rabble rousing noise on a topic you know nothing about.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 75.

    There is nothing wrong with trying to stop the spiralling cost of welfare, but there is something wrong with giving the to rate tax payers a tax cut, allowing tax dodging on a massive level and renewing Trident and funding terrorism in Syria (not to mention aid to countries with poor HR like Pakistan). IDS wonders why his plans are controversial, look at the tax breaks for millionaires and dodgers

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 74.

    Dont see much wrong assessing need & disability IF it is fair. Dont see why disabled have to prove their position when child benefit is paid to children living abroad apparently with little proof esp. that a kids only counted once. Dont see why benefit cant be capped at a living wage average level. It all needs to be much simpler and equitable rather than tinkering with current dogs breakfast

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 73.

    I totally agree with Kit@64. As a counsellor, I see a lot of people who because of chronic depression/anxiety, find the assessments and tribunals a complete nightmare to go through. The ATOS people who have seen my clients do not have a clue about mental illness. They will write to a GP but never to the counsellor, so how can they have the full picture? Mental health is bottom of the pile again.

  • rate this
    +122

    Comment number 72.

    The system is broken.
    We tax people on the minimum wage and then we spend tax payer’s money working out how much we have to give them back in working benefits.
    Surely the minimum wage should be the wage, below the tax threshold, needed to live a basic life without additional benefits.
    Then benefits could be capped and linked to a real minimum wage rather than inflation.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 71.

    Saw a neighbour of mine who has been on DLA since i've known him due to his back, help push a car in the recent snowy weather. Clearly some people are abusing the system but the vast majority are in real need. !!!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 70.

    Its a real shame that people with real debilatating ilnesses are being compared to, high energy Yoga teachers who are in receipt of incapacity benifits.
    Although I appreciate many disabled people do not want preferrential treatment. It feels that the necessity for those to prove their incapabilities is becoming embarrassingly patronising

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 69.

    I'm sure that some of these 3.3m people can work. Problem is about how we value all people and different sorts of work. If disabled people were encouraged and valued from an earlier age they might not feel like DLA was the only option. Some of them may be people that were shoved on there to make the unemployment figures better. I can't help thinking that this approach will not solve the problem.

 

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