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"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit...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 408.

    A lot of people don't know that before you receive DLA you have to attend a hearing in front of 3 judges, 1 a disabled care worker, 2 a solicitor, and 3 a doctor, and if you can't convince them then you don't get any money, and you do this annually. So I think that this is just a scapegoat because they messed up, also MOST PEOPLE ON DLA DO WORK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 407.

    Here is a fact that should be on here That David Cameron claimed DLA for his late son Ivan Reginald Ian Cameron and David Cameron said at the time that DLA was the hardest thing to claim but since his government as got in to power his ministers are saying it is easy to claim But David Cameron claimed it any way with all the money he has got how nice just shows he will say one thing aqnd do another

  • rate this

    Comment number 406.

    368 - stan howard.

    My thoughts exactly and I think that your comment applies to ALL politicians including back benchers, and ALL political parties.

  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    Your all being brain washed by this nasty government when will you all wake up to this!
    I am well aware of the nature of this thieving government and their corporate buddies in business. But, that doesn't change the fact that there ARE millions of people abusing the benefits system every day. Both gov and the system need to be drastically changed. View it without anti-Tory blinkers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 404.

    I think change is needed, culture of todays generation feel they should get something for nothing...An old boy in our factory lost half of his fingers back in the 60's...no help and was back in work 2 wks later where he is retiring next week...what would a working class 18 yr old do today in similar circumstance...milk it for all its worth!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 403.

    I find it hard to believe there are more disabled people claiming benefits in the UK than there are people out of work claiming job seekers!!!

    I think at least a few people claiming DLA will not even show up for their appraisals which says this government is trying to remove free money from those undeserving.

    We could balance it out with some policies for tax avoidance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 402.

    I cannot understand all this dicussion about these types of benefits. Either one is disabled and unable to work or one is not.Is it a little bit like a driving licence either you pass or you do not.What is there to fear from people who are really disabled.Those who are perhaps a little wary ( encouraged by people like the BBC) are those who can work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 401.

    It is time to pulp the Tory Fiction - enough is enough.
    Only 3% of the Welfare cost goes to the unemployed- many disabled people find work as a result of the DLA - now this crass extreme right wing govt is pushing them into a life of Welfare dependency. Only 0.8% of this is abused, balance this against £16bn that goes UNCLAIMED. Close the loops of abuse not persecute vulnerable people!

  • Comment number 400.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 399.

    356 "The benefit system has been around years but bankers mess up.. and suddenly everyone hates benefit claimants" - nope that is the counter lie spread by the left wing media against the "all benefit claimants are on the scroungers" right wing lie. There are two issues: reckless investment practices and an unsustainable welfare state which offers too much to too many, we need to tackle both.

  • Comment number 398.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 397.

    This should be about those who deserve it getting it and those who are trying to play the system have their benefits stopped. The question I have is why numbers went up so much when the clamp came on job seekers. As I said earlier all those who deserve it should get all they need.

  • rate this

    Comment number 396.

    I am concerned about the approach in these reforms. Ministers expect to be treated with dignity and respect (as witnessed by the plebgate debacle). I do not see that the disabled and elderly are being treated here with dignity or respect, rather the reverse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 395.

    40% of claims turned down that go to appeal are being overturned. The gov't have also given a pre-defined figure of how much they want to cut from disability benefits. Anyone who thinks these assessments are being carried out with anything less than extreme prejudice are gullible fools. The word for what they're doing is much further right in meaning than reform. MUCH FURTHER!

  • rate this

    Comment number 394.

    374. Sebastian
    'Nobody is claiming genunine cases should not get benefits.'

    But that is exactly what is happening. A man with terminal cancer was told he was fit for work, benefits removed only for him to die in the next four weeks. A man near me is blind, recently had a stroke and cannot walk unaided but is 'fit for work' according to Atos. IDS is telling porkies here but you can't see it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 393.

    I wonder what the disabled figure was after world war 1 & 2 of course many fought in both. ? not 3.3 million I am willing to bet. ! then again i saw a champion cycle cross rider on the news a few weeks ago who claimed to be disabled oh yes also the martial arts instructor. My personal favourite however was the Tango instructor who was caught jumping around like Rudolf Nurejew !!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 392.

    Your all being brain washed by this nasty government when will you all wake up to this! Steal of the poor to give to the rich! That is what its really about! Tories just thew same as when Thatcher was in power! People will never learn it scares me!

  • rate this

    Comment number 391.

    I am only talking about the people who really do have a learning disability, in the true sense of the word. These people get DLA to help them live independently/with family.In the past these people lived in those old victorian institutions. What the government did was to close all those old hospitals and sell them off saving themselves millions. Now they bring the scissors to these payments too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 390.

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

    The Tories and the right really do love cutting off the plebs as they vent their sneering spite.

  • rate this

    Comment number 389.

    Statistics confirm that the fraud rate for ESA/DLA is only 0.5%, yet the ConDems are intending to save 20% on the current DLA Bill when it is changed to PIP. That saving will be made cutting vital income from genuine disabled people, who rely on it to lead an independent life.
    Subjecting sick people to widely criticised ATOS Assessments is cruel torture and detrimental to disableds' health.


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