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"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit...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 288.

    Personally...I would like to know what Labour think as it will be the next govt. The cons have declared war on too many large segments of the voting population to get in....and the dems...well, UKIP will get more votes.

    Not that I'm looking forward to a lab govt....the political system is what is wrong with the UK and all the parties perpetuate it for their own ends.

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    long overdue, so many scroungers with no intention of working, happy to live on benefits paid by us, the geu¡nuine have no need to fear. Another massively abused thing is the blue badge, most do not need it, or use someone else`s, we need a big crackdown.

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    Editor isn't no economist. You'd see massive increase in the minimum wage that way which would lead to massive increase in wage claims bumping up inflation into the double figures. Then it would all get interesting as the dog chased its tail. No, rather than changing benefits we need to collapse the housing market and make what was workable and fair, and it was, continue to be. PIP=false flag.

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    Why don't you lot rely on yourselves rather than hoping some mythical rich person will subsidise your life?

    What happens is people like Lewis Hamilton leave the UK and now we end up with 47% of nothing.

    Labour and the left really do love cutting off their nose to spite their face.

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    2 people with identical disabling conditions. One rises above it and works their whole life. The other settles for a life on benefits. There should be no graduation; you either can work or you can't. Those that can should get nothing. Those that can't should get everything they need. Bad back, stiff elbow, sore knees, headaches, missing limb, deaf in 1 ear, blind in 1 eye and the like; get a job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    I think people think that if you say that some people don't need benefits you mean all people. I have a disabled daughter and work in the health sector. It makes me mad watching some people rake in thousands (more than I earn) and taking away from people that need it. I want to see the many people that are abusing the system have their benefits cut.

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    Well my mum contracted polio when she was 2, she gets DLA she does have to buy her mobility scooters and starlifts out of this too which isn't cheap. She worked when till she became a mother, then she did outwork for various companies, now she does volunteering. It's sickening when you know people who are claiming for a bad back who've never worked a day, it does need sorting, get on with it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    260.A Realist

    sure this comment does the rounds always seems to appear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    @214 It makes sense to reassess the need for benefit payments and reduce it where it is no longer necessary.

    I expect even those on DLA would agree that changes are needed, but not based on one meeting with someone who doesn't know or understand a person personal longterm medical history or really even understand the day to day needs of a person who lives with disability.

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    @238. Frank "Why can't the families of disabled people look after them, I don't see why the taxes I pay should be wasted etc...."

    And who takes care of the carers ?

    My Mum cares for my sister, it's a 24 hour job, my sister recieves DLA which pays my Mum for her time for doing the work. And it's hard work, far harder than most people could possibly imagine or manage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    Increase the minimum wage and make working wages livable

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.

    There needs to be support for people returning to work after a serious illness. It shouldn't be all or nothing help. For example a recovering cancer sufferer can't be expected to put in a 6 day week just weeks after treatment. Support to allow them do what they can and increase this over time as they recover is the best rehabilitation without the stress of worrying about re-occurrence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 276.

    There appear to be a group on this HYS who have decided to crawl out from under a stone and offer us their wit and wisdom on another subject they manifestly no nothing about.

    How is it at Tory Central Office this Morning Chaps?

    260 Did she disown you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 275.

    Without more control those who are deserving get less due to those who should not be claiming. Too many stepped out of the jobless figures and onto the DLA. This was a cynical move by previous governments to massage the figures. This now needs to be rectified.

  • Comment number 274.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 273.

    Plenty of talk of 'milking the system', yet the article states that disability benefit fraud is 0.5%. No wonder Osborne says he's in tune with public opinion as he cuts support for the weakest in our society - people have swallowed the Tory insinuations that everyone on benefit is a potential Mick Philpott. People at the bottom need help, not insults from a sneering Chancellor or 'Fifty Quid' IDS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    The lady interviewed is losing her sight but that does not make her unemployable she simply needs help to find a suitable job like 1000s of other blind or partially sighted people. My uncle started to learn Braille at 92. I worked with a number of disabled people who took pride in earning their own money not sitting back at letting tax payers support them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 271.

    The benefits system should be there solely to ensure that nobody starves or lives on the street. It isn't there to ensure that nobody is poor. That's up to the individual and their life choices. We pay out too much because it seems that it is now unacceptable for anyone to be poorer than anyone else. Its just daft.

  • rate this

    Comment number 270.

    I dont see what the problem is with reviewing whether someone still needs benefits.
    although if that is all it is about then why change the scheme and name?

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

    These changes are long overdue.

    There is an entitlement mindset that faking disability is legitimate and that must change. Honest people would return to work once they have recovered. Dishonest people will try to bleed the taxpayer funded system for all they can.

    The blame for the handful of genuine cases made worse off by these changes lies with those dishonest people not the government.


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