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"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit...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 348.

    My 28yr old daughter has learning difficulties and recieves both components of DLA. I have looked at the new qualifying criteria and under this system she will recieve considerably more money. The existing system works for those with physical disabilities but not those who are intellectually handicaped. The emphasis is being correctly shifted to how a disability affects ones independance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 347.

    Re318. All for All.

    Please be very, very careful of the labels you give people. I would like to know what qualification you have to call people 'psycho-sociopathic' and where you get your figures from. So perhaps you could re-visit this HYS and answer these two questions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 346.

    i suggest people take a step back and see what has become of us. a baying hatred filled mob. weve decended into blame anyone but ourselves society; partly fuelled by a tory led govt. i say partly because we should all be above this.after all we are british. british? you could have fooled me. never have i been more ashamed of being british. what have we become? no better than the nazis!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 345.

    57. Freescotland

    Please let you achieve what your name suggests!

  • rate this

    Comment number 344.

    This may be a distraction away from the real abusers of the system, Tax avoiders, Libor riggers etc. but it it is both cynical and cruel to the weakest members of our society. They should be ashamed.

    ATOS appeals have shown how unjust assessments can be and to avoid any similar embarassments, they have now denied Legal Aid for appeals.
    Cynical and cruel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 343.


  • rate this

    Comment number 342.

    I work as a DWP Fraud Investigator. I've lost count of people I investigate with either depression or a bad back.This never stops them walking down the pub or shooting off on moonlight jobs. There are 8 investigators in my office, all with at least 100 files on the go at any given time. We prove about 80% of cases. There are genuine people in need but there's also a lot of scroungers out there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 341.

    UK disability allowances are slightly above the European average.

    Tories promise to put a stop to this disgrace.

    Meanwhile in other news Millionaires get a £100,000 tax cut.

    If there was ever a point in having this government it has long gone as should they!

  • rate this

    Comment number 340.

    309. JamesStGeorge

    "The telling thing was the vast number who gave up disability benefits rather than be examined on their supposed disability."

    What a coincidence that the percentage of "no-shows" for interviews matches almost perfectly with the percentage of assessment centres with no access for disabled.

    The despicable Atos and the even more despicable CONDEMed gvt shoul be binned now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 339.

    Tax evasion costs the public purse over £15 billion per year and benefit fraud just over £1 billion. Tax evasion is around 3% of total tax liabilities, while benefit fraud accounts for 0.8% of total benefit expenditure. I know exactly which fraudsters i`d start with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 338.

    4. FishOnADish
    1 HOUR AGO
    3.3 million people claim disability benefit in the UK.

    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.

    Correct. If the system was OK, there would be a roughly equal small % of claimants across every town or city.

    I'll guarantee you the real data won't be published.

  • rate this

    Comment number 337.

    Why not just assess benefits fairly, rigorously and regularly rather than having an incomprehensible new system which mainly benefits those who learn it well enough to cheat it.
    My partner was assessed and denied DLA for 15 months until it was finally admitted that the 3 ATOS assessments were not fit for purpose. This cost the taxpayer (incl myself) a massive amount of additional expense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 336.


    '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.'

    Why on earth should they? The did not get us into this mess in the first place!

  • rate this

    Comment number 335.

    Could you imagine what would happen if there was another war similar to WW2.Could you imagine people surviving on rationing and helping each other. How many people would demand what they wanted because unfortunately that's what society has become.

  • rate this

    Comment number 334.

    I agree the system is broken but does it need the BBC in all it's programmes to try and make the government out to be the villain. The villains are the people who have been allowed to abuse the system for many years and now the genuine claimants are being made to suffer. Come on BBC be fair in your comments

  • rate this

    Comment number 333.

    Ther were/and probably still are/far too many people classified as "disabled" .By reducing the number to those who genuinely are in this category,more resources can be put their way,and less to people who are clearly able to work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 332.

    The problem is there are so many cases reported on for abuse of benefits,
    I don't deny there are abuses of the system, but consider how many are genuine. Many on this HYS claim to know "at least 2 people claiming benefits who are fit to work" - really? DLA doesn't replace working - it supplements the increased costs of living with a disability.

  • rate this

    Comment number 331.

    It is appalling when something as important as welfare and disability reform is being fought over at sub tabloid level. Get angry and find the easiest victims all encouraged by the government.

    Welfare and disability may need reform, but this is pure cost cutting, it has nothing to do with need or fairness.

    Monumental government policy failure with very sad consequences for many I fear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 330.

    It might help the more virulent commentators to know that if the DWP move the goal posts & decide there has been an over payment they will take it back out of other benefits or send in the bailiffs.
    no matter what you all think,DLA is very hard to come by.divide & rule,the weakest loose because they are too scared to complain or fight back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    It appears to me that all the people in society that this coalition, and Cameron as the leader of the Conservatives despise, are the target for their venom and hate, in an attempt to wipe them off of the board.
    At least Hitler was honest.


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