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"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit...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 228.

    Yes there's lots of people out there who lie about being disabled, like those who don't put any weight through sticks or crutches (I never saw it until I had a knee injury).

    However the current criteria for the DLA mobility component of 20 meters is ridiculous. It means huge numbers will be unable to get out turning them into recluses.

    What is the new policy out of sight, out of mind? It stinks!

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    208.kev - "Not everyone on disability benefit needs it..........there's a lot of people claiming disability benefit that shouldn't spoiling it for the people that do."

    And jst how many are this "lot" of people...???

    To make such a claim you must have nos. or else you;d just being throwing random statements around...???

    Come on, how many makes"a lot"...???

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    Everyone is capable of working at something, no one can truly be so disabled they are totally incapable. Even a paraplegic if given a straw to suck and blow on can control a keyboard and type. So there you are, disability benefits are a scam.

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    Whilst the p takers need to be weeded out (how about a shop-a-scrounger type scheme instead?), why oh why is a private company - which is looking to make a profit - doing this job? Outsourcing is lazy and often it's expensive. It needs to stop.

    BTW I'm a Tory!

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    189.Trout Mask Replica
    "My mother had severe rheumatoid arthritis but had a successful career as a senior teacher for 30 years with it before retiring at 60."

    Put a skilled person and a sympathetic public employer together and of course it can be done. And at least a week away from the classroom roughly every six weeks plus a decent final salary pension helps enormously.

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    Why are there so many disabled people in this county compared to all other countries? It's almost fashionable to describe yourself as disabled.

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    My Dad had a accident in 1989 & damaged his back, he recovered enough to go back to work but he was warned his spine would crumble

    He's had stomach cancer, went through a procedure with only a 3% success rate & eventually gave up working last March at the age of 60

    His GP & Surgeon have both said he will never work again but guess what? Those that assess DLA have said otherwise


  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    What is the most expensive part of the welfare bill?

    Non-means tested benifits to pensioners.

    What is the only Promise Cameron will keep? Not scrapping benifits to rich pensioners.


    Because they tend vote Tory. And pensioners turn out in large numbers.

    Poor disabled people tend not to.


  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    until this country only gives benifits to people who are entitled to them,born and bred to tax paying brits !!.i have just been helped by the NHS and am very greatful but i have paid for 53 years,i am amazed that people can come and collect health care,a home and money so easily.it will bring this country to its knees if we dont remember charity should begin at home.jop

  • Comment number 219.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    I do not wish to offend anybody but I am stunned ADHD is considered grounds for paying out DLA.

    Then you don't understand ADHD. The trouble with ADHD is that there are too many misdiagnoses, causing the uninformed to think that it isn't a genuine condition. More thorough diagnoses are the answer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    There will always be a problem of people receiving benefits when they shouldn't, but i can promise you this government and the private company they've tasked with reducing the number of people claiming DLA are not bothered with catching that small minority. They want to reduce the numbers, that's it. If anything keep a few fraudsters in, it makes their attacks on welfare more legitimate

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    A lot of people on here for weeks have been calling the Tories the nasty party seems to me they are the only ones with any common sense or ability to apply common sense. The Lazy party (sorry I meant the Labour Party) seems to want to encourage people ywho wont work to apply for benifits as so far I have not read or heard anything to refute this. They are populist and hopeless

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    Amazed that anyone can criticise the benefits changes. The £26000 cap is more than fair. That's the equivalent of someone earning around £35000 before tax which is way above the average way. People need to realise that benefits are not a lifestyle choice. They should be a safety net.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    It makes sense to reasses the need for benefit payments and reduce it where it is no longer necessary.
    Anyone who thinks taxpayers money should be splashed about is presumably a Labour shadow treasury spokesman.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    So DLA becomes PIP. Every new government makes a name change to something, resulting in new forms, new bureaucracy, new logos ...

    ... but it's all cosmetic. And you can be assured it's to do with saving money, nothing to do with improving the quality of disabled peoples' lives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    #183 With a nickname like that you will of course be aware of the problems of leaving the assessment to doctors. In parts of Wales when this was done for disability benefit all too frequently doctors signed people off for an easy life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    I think the fact that you can get a Ford Focus ST on Motobility says it all really. How can a performance vehicle like that possibly help a disabled person get around

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    "Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" - and we, the government, will persecute them unmercifully, smirking while we cut taxes for the super-rich.

    And the Liberals happily support "the nasty party" while they drive the disabled to an early grave. A partially blind thalidomide victim with a brain tumour is told to "prepare for work", and still they smirk!

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    I seem to remember the Labour government trying to bring in disability reforms.There were demonstrations up and down the country.
    Are there no demo's now, or are they just not being reported upon?
    The same way the bedroom tax demo's were not reported.


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