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"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit...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 108.

    For too long those who should be recieving benefits, especially DLA, have been tarnished with the same brush as those who freeload. There needs to be a fair test, but how to it without overstepping the human rights mark? It shouldn't be difficult for those who need this assistance to claim it, but it should be impossible for the freeloaders and they should be treated as climinals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    There is a girl with cerebral palsy who works at our local supermarket. At my last place of work,we had someone who came to work on crutches,who was fiercely independent and refused even to let people hold doors open for him. It's largely about attitude.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    I had a difficult pregnancy a couple of years ago, and needed to stop work well in advance of when I wanted to. I used annual leave for a month and started maternity leave early. It didn't even occur to me to take any other route. What a mug! According to these lefty posters I should have milked the system and got loads of free money by claiming disability/unfitness to work. Really?

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Come on everyone look on the bright side, the top rate of income tax has been reduced from 50% to 45%! Happy days are here again.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.


  • rate this

    Comment number 103.


    "With 53m people in the UK, having 3.3m disabled is actually not a lot"

    Are you kidding? That's 6.2% of the population. No way can so many people be disabled by the normal meaning of the word. One I know is registered disabled due to the loss of one finger on the left hand (he is right-handed).That's just taking advantage of a lax system which is urgently in need of tightening up

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    More anti Tory rhetoric from the BBC, always looking at extreme cases.

    The Labour party created this mess and have no policies, unfortunately BBC, 60% of people support welfare reform, I guess you are out of touch again.

    I'm looking forward to reform of public sector broadcasting!

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    Simple case of using flaws in system, which are exploited by small minority, to attempt to strip needed support from disabled. Just as govt whips up irrational fear over future of NHS to justify effective privatisation (more privately-funded patients hospitals treat, more profit they make). It's all ideological - dump on the poor & the disabled because they don't vote. Protect wealthy donors.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    They can come out with all the excuses they want its just a cynical rule change to remove £30 a week off a large number of people ...

    Whilst giving the private firms doing it huge amounts of tax payer money, if there was so much fraud the dwp could easily find it...

    People with life long conditions dont need rechecking, apart from to give a private firm more money.

    Help ?? yeah right....

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    Yes there is a need to change the system. But governments of all parties have made a bed for themselves by allowing DLA to be used to be used to cover the unemployment figures by moving people on to this benefit. I am on DLA for a number of health reasons I hate that I cannot work. But what I hate even more is that this government is making all we all faking it. I didn't choose to be ill.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.


    DLA is paid if you work or not. It is not a out of work benefit. I'm disabled and I receive DLA and it helps me keep my job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding. DLA is a benefit for both those who work and those who don't. It is used by a lot of disabled people to help them to work. It helps cover the cost of transport to work for those with mobility problems. It pays for people who are visually impaired to use gadgets to help them to read. Reducing this benefit will only make it harder for some people to work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    There needs to be a middle ground between requiring no evidence and ATOS doctors bullying people into suicide, maybe a few people got off easy under the old system but taking it so ridiculously far in the other direction is really not helpful.
    Luckily for the tories when you manage to equate claiming benefits with child murder you can get away with a lot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    Of course this all about saving money and anyone who thinks that the Govt. is doing it to be fair, and not to save money is a fool!!

    MPs can claim vastly subsidised meals, drinks etc. and that's on a salary of £50K plus. Let see the Govt. do the fair thing here.

    No chance.

    This is a mean money saving plan trumpeted to cheer up the 'Invalidaphobic' in the land .. phobia ... now there's a word!

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    "Mental health is at the bottom of the pile..."
    I have a mental health condition. I work. It's a struggle. I don't claim any benefit. Sitting at home with mental health issues makes them worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    Tax avoidance is legal, benefit fraud is illegal"

    Quite true. Let's call them benefits abuse and tax abuse, instead. An example of the former would be parents who deliberately don't control or toilet train their children so they can claim additional benefits. Perfectly legal but surely not something to be encouraged. I'm sure we can all think of comparable abuses of the tax code.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    It is quite simple. Big stick to root out the ones who are so disgracefully faking disability if they are found to be swinging the lead I suggest confiscation of assets to the amount stolen. let the new system bed in if there are problems I do not think anyone would disagree to increasing benefits for the real sick and disabled what is the problem with that ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    0.5% fraud rate seems low. Certainly lower than the percentage of MPs fraudulently claiming expenses.

    All the rules are there for prosecuting those claiming fraudulently, they just need to be used. As usual with government, it will probably cost much more to weed out the abusers than it will save. That is the real scandal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    Isn't this just the usual 'blindness' of politicians. They look the other way when it comes to taxing the people who were the cause of the troubles because they are the ones filling politicians pockets with large nest-eggs. Also one who caused a lot of servicemen to lose their lives has become a multi millionaire since then ! The only politician who could ever be trusted was Lee Kwan Yew !

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    The Gov as worked this very cleverly by switching the blame from the corrupt bankers on to the poor and choose the right time to coincide with recent news event's spin and more spin , let's go back to a couple of years ago who was claiming tax payers money for flat screen tv's to duck moat's short memories , actually @omegaman that isn't a big % when we have a population of 62 million .


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