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"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit...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 148.

    136. AndyC555
    Hitler blamed rich jewish bankers and businessmen for Germany's problems in the 1930's. The German people stupidly lapped it up rather than confront their own failings.
    So warped.
    Bankers with heavily involved in the 2008 crash.
    Now the Tories are lining up the sick and disabled to pay the price.
    Adolf would be proud of them.
    Old nick is stoking the fiery pit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    103/106/110/111 - Those posts are the reason I stopped posting comments on BBC & why I'm sorry I wasted my time today. Reason govt didn't just tighten up current system is because it wouldn't have achieved the cost savings - in other words, vast majority would have been confirmed completely entitled to DLA. So they've put it on road to extinction instead. Whacking the defenseless once again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    119. Rivers38
    'Boy from my school said, "I've got it" to his friends. ..his parents had been pestering the GP to say that he had ADHD..to get DLA. He explained that he had purposefully been behaving badly to..get the "evidence"

    A friend of mine did the same. Chopped off both legs to feign being disabled! Some people will do anything to get benefits!

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    136. AndyC555 Linking failing bank bosses to victims of the Holocaust, what a cheap tawdry comment. I think you will find labour were and still are in bed with the banking sector, as for saying tax dodging is not illegal it is up to the political elite no matter what colour they are to make sure the rich pay what they should. And mainstream politicians wonder why voting is in decline.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    Both sides (Labour & Conservatives) are trying to score political points. There are genuine disabled people who need help and support and there are people who are abusing the system. We need a good adult debate on the topic with proper fact and figures not Cheap Point Scoring!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    103.Rabbitkiller-"..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"

    'tightening up' is one job that your target probably would't get then...and I'm sure there are others

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    There's nothing wrong or callous about ensuring people in receipt of disability benefits genuinely need them. It's targeted at people who choose to live on disability benefits; not at those who have no choice. They deserve support and the state could afford to do more if the system was not abused. Nobody supports victimisation of disability; everyone detests abuse of the system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    Scrap all disability benefits. They just serve as a disincentive to people becoming productive workers.

    If the Paralympics taught us one thing (and they didn't) it is that everybody, whatever their supposed impairment, have the ability to do something reasonably competently just maybe not quite as quickly or as well as a non disabled colleague.

    Scrap the minimum wage for the disabled too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    AndyC555 - as usual supporting the Randian cause, talking about something you know nothing about (people) to defend your cause celebre - accountancy. Whenever I read your comments it always appears that in your self-important world, money is more important than people.

    The main gripe is that just like the Taxpayers' Alliance et al, the assessors lack the expertise to make sound decisions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    To get any pay rise many of us have to show that our performance has increased over the year.
    We are tested.
    Each year employers ‘raise the bar’ and each year it seems to settle just above the increased performance level achieved.
    No inflation pay rises for performance based workers
    So why is it so wrong to review the needs of people on additional benfits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    I have no problem with helping the less fortunate in society but I do believe that there ought to be a reciprocal arrangement and get most benefit recipients of any benefit to put something back into society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    44.Peter Buck
    Sickness benefit is a very different thing to DLA.
    There aren't. That's a projected figure. Many in receipt of DLA do work. That's precisely what it can help to support.

    This belief in myths and untruths peddled by ministers and the press is very depressing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    Hitler blamed rich jewish bankers and businessmen for Germany's problems in the 1930's. The German people stupidly lapped it up rather than confront their own failings.

    Labour and the left in modern Britain have dropped the word 'Jewish' but other than that it's about the same.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    Benefit fraud £1.2 billion.

    Tax Avoidance, Unpaid Tax etc £32 billion.

    Where should the government REALLY be looking. the sick and disabled or the just plain criminal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    While I agree changes need to be made, the so called Dr's who will be carrying out the assessments need to spend more than 2 minutes with each person.

    Years ago, a so called Dr cleared my father for work, despite him having a heart condition, a week later my father was dead! My mother has also been cleared for work, despite being in recovery from chemo and only spending a minutes with the Dr.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    Cuts need to be made, I think we can all agree on that but they are cutting the wrong areas - again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.


    All this on in the same week when the Super Rich get thier 5% tax cut, i guess that missing 5% has to be got from some where, start with the weak and poor.


    Complete twaddle.
    The top rate of of income tax is merely going back down to same rate that it was when Labour were in office...so no big deal.
    And the lowest paid workers now pay no tax at all with the threshold at £9.5K

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    I fear that you are woefully shy on the amount you can claim. C&M is over £130 P/W Then there are all the other benefits you can claim - I will restate that I personally know of a relative that takes home more than £3k P/M. Now lets see him try and live on that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    You people south off the border put the Tories back in power, did you really expect them to be any different from previous Tory administrations?...live with it and think twice next time it comes to vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    Its a question of priorities - how much is this going to save.
    We give away £12 billion every year on overseas aid, money that has to be borrowed and paid for by UK people paying tax.
    Our own poor people should come first, but not according to Cameron, Clegg, or Milliband.


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