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"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit...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 308.

    " A Realist
    My ex-mother in law was the greatest actress! She had the Benefits Agency utterly fooled."

    The Benefit Fraudline is: 0800 854 440

  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    We have governance by opinion and soundbite ideology.

    Policy should be presented with a wealth of data about welfare and disability claimants the rationale behind cuts is clear and government claims founded in fact. Otherwise you get what we have now, people jumping to blame the nieghbour. The old divide and rule while people tear each other apart. Tories laughing all the way to the bank.

  • rate this

    Comment number 306.

    Disability support should be provided to place those in real need on a 'level playing field' with the rest of society.

    However, in providing that support society has a right to fully assess that this support is being given fairly and only to those with a real need.

    In turn assessments should be administered fairly and take an individual's full circumstances into account.

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    Just a sham to cut peoples money. Easily spotted - if the reviews were fair it's perfectly possible the number of claimants could go up, therefore with the 20% saving target, reviews will no be fair but, like the ATOS 'reviews', be simply about cuts with no regard to the consequences.

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.


    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.


    Handful? What planet do you live on? Sure some screw the sytsem, but they are the tiny minority. Look at the Tax avoiders if you want to to see real fraud.

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    Rather than forcing employers to pay a living wage, we let them get away with paying a paltry sum and then tax the middle class to pay benefits for those earning next to no money. It's a good system for those at the top. It essentially means the middle class subsidise multi billion pound companies so they can pay their employees less money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    Whoops! I"ve upset Auntie again by speaking the truth! something the establishment (inc. BBC) cannot handle! & you call the UK democratic! don't make me laugh, whatever happened to free speech! publish this if you support freedom of speech, choice of political leanings and religion!
    If you don't publish we shall all know why!

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    I think everyone has to remember benefits does not come from some remote pot of cash - it comes from tax payments that all working people have to make. In essence we all work to pay for disability and all other benefits.
    Allowing for all NI, some are paying a marginal rate of over 70p in the £ - that cant be right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    It looks as though the government health experts have learnt all they know about disability by watching Andy and Lou in their 'Little Britain' sketches. We know that the government wants a 20% reduction in the disability budget and that it is the job of ATOS to deliver it. In reality, as far as the disabled are concerned, Cameron doesn't care ATOS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    As full time carer for a paraplegic I find some of these comments totally offensive and repugnant. Particularly @226, who clearly is so ignorant that such a comment be made. Incidentally higher rate component of PIP contributes to 20% of total care cost...the remainder from savings. The principle of PIP is right..trouble is there are better options of funding care which have not been explored.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    Iain Duncan Smith said the "ridiculous" system under which people were awarded benefit with no further checks must end.

    So let me get this right. If you have lost your legs you will be checked to see if anything has changed? That being said i do recall a woman who had lost a leg being refused DLA as the government decided it "might grow back". Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    I believe that a large proportion of people with a disability are actually elderly. I wish some of the very, very nasty posts on here would actually do some research first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    #273 Daffodiljar. "Plenty of talk of 'milking the system', yet the article states that disability benefit fraud is 0.5%"

    It's not fraud if you qualified for DLA at time of assessment '20 years ago'. But equally it's not appropriate to continue claiming a benefit you wouldn't have qualified for if re-assessed '19 years ago'.

    The issue isn't so much fraudsters, as the lack of a review process.

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    The state is virtually bankrupt. We cannot afford all these benefits. The disabled are no exception. People are too afraid of saying that old people and the disabled should also bear some of the burden.But they should.

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    Why is this debate being held under the 'business' section?
    Should it not be under the health section?

  • Comment number 293.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    Osborne and IDS need to go and work in mental health for a couple of weeks. We'll see then is they still spout such nonsense?

    If you're ill then hard luck, it's your own fault - Almost Dickensian.

    This government is inept, poorly managed and clueless!

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    82.The Lone Gunman
    Have you noticed over the last 10 yrs or so we've been fighting a war in Afghanistan and that hundreds of young men and women have returned with significant injuries?
    Or that young people are significantly more likely to be seriously injured in road accidents?
    Might explain some of those sticks and crutches.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    Well we have already seen the lash up when it comes to evaluating disability via the incompetent auspices of ATOS, here's another stick to beat the disabled with !
    Nice work George and on the day you lower the top tax rate.
    Good to see how the Nasty Party operate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    In order to recieve benefits, conditions of entitlement must be met and continue to be met, according too the DWP. So there is no such thing as 'life time awards' Maybe IDS should speak with DWP and clarify some facts.


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