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"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit...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 128.

    ...... Luckily for the tories when you manage to equate claiming benefits with child murder you can get away with a lot.

    How stupid... GO said having 17 kids on benefits had to be looked at. It was V.carefully separated from the gruesome crimes, but the 2Eds want to do anything to talk down progress.

    Unfortunately your comment on this detracted from your excellent first point

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    In a month when the government announced that the Queen is going to get another £5,000,000 annually I really can't see why so many people think that its the disabled that are the freeloaders.

    I mean, how many spare bedrooms does the Royal Family have in their council homes?

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    I've got not objections to benefits but I think sometimes people who get the benefits forget somebody else has to pay for it by working hard.

    I'm all in favour for the govt striking a balance between people getting benefits and people who don't.

    It may seem unfair but the UK cannot afford a generous social security which has been abused over the last 60 years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    As ATOS are to do the assessments and their track record is a 40% successful appeal rate against their assessments, how well are they going to do assessing the disabled?
    The coalition are assuring people that they will be spending the same amount on the disabled in 2015 as they are now. Yet are also saying there will be a 20% fall in claims.
    Based on what evidence?
    It's a cutting exercise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    Straw Poll time:

    Should DLA be overhauled = vote POSITIVE.

    Should DLA be left as it is = vote NEGATIVE.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    They should provide (CMDA) benefit. Credit Card Mortgage Debt Addiction. After all this is the root of the economic illness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.


    3.3 million ? Come on, there can't be 3.3 million adults out of 50 million that are disabled. That can't be true; it's clearly being abused.

    Around 10 per cent of the world's population, live with a disability. So 6% of the population is below average Im not seeing clear abuse

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    I agree something needs to be done..I just hope they are also tackling economic migrants who are raking in millions of taxpayers money having never paid a penny in.Why do they always pick on our own first.Migrants who send child benefit back home needs to be stopped. There are so many areas that could be cut back but no they always pick on the poorest and most vulnerable.What about MP's expenses?

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    Surely lots of people who declared disabled to reduce unemployment figures. Just keep asking how much this is saving?

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    Boy from my school said, "I've got it" to his friends. Turns out his parents had been pestering the GP to say that he had ADHD in order to get DLA. He explained that he had purposefully been behaving really badly in school in order to get the "evidence" together and described the symptoms! His friend said, "I'll tell my mum. We'll try that". The system allowed this and it needed to change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    The first and second world wars, unfortunately killed a big percentage of our healthy male population. That left us with a new generation being born with a high percentage of ill fathers. A lot of disabled people suffer with a genetic illness which could well be the result of having a parent or grandparent with the same illness. This is not something we can control.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    This isn't about fairness, this is pure destructiveness by a government minister bent on destroying a welfare system that he and his friends will never need to depend on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    The genuinely sick have nothing to fear? Apart from ATOS incompetance, you mean?
    And "people hobbling around with crutches in order to claim DLA"? REALLY?! I don't think you actually know what DLA is, do you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    I think it's shocking that these so called disabled people were either hoarding the cash or stashing it in lucrative off shore accounts instead of putting it back into the economy by way of purchasing goods and services.........

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.


    "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"

    David you have a short memory the sub prime mortgage meltdown started the financial crisis where most of our debt has accumulated. Banksters have bank bailout benefits of hundreds of billions of pounds !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    Once again this government putts the cart before the horse.

    Before it even thinks about cutting benefits of ant description it needs to create 3 million jobs.

    when it has done that they can say working pays, until they do it’s just an excuse to persecute the poor

  • Comment number 112.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    In 1992 there were 1.1m people on Disability Allowance.
    Now we have 2.6m, a 150% increase.


    Did medical science got worse?
    Did our health deteriorate that much?
    Or did it become much easier to claim this extra money?

    Unfortunately, genuine cases are caught in this clean-up too, but hopefully it will leave more money for them and for the system to be fit for purpose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    The genuinely disabled must be looked after, that's a given but when, on the high street, you see some fat blob ride up on their 'disability' scooter, then get off it and waddle into Greggs to stock up on pies, you have to wonder whether the system needs tightening up a tad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    You don't need a crystal ball to see what the majority of posts will be on this subject. They will be broadly broken down into:

    1) I know someone who claims when they shouldn't
    2) I know someone who has been told to work by ATOS who physically can't
    3) What about the bankers?
    4) What about tax evasion?

    Just another day in the BBC HYS world of make believe.


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