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"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit...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 428.

    We must avoid generalising the benefits system. It's not perfect and never will be. However, there are many many people who genuinely cannot work and genuinely need this money and they are the people who will suffer. We may all need assistance one day if we fall ill.

  • rate this

    Comment number 427.

    384 "but of course it wont fit with your tory dogma so you won't read it...I dare you...http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ramesh-patel/growth-cameron-austerity_b_2007552.html" - Sorry Ron, I am neither left nor right, but it's a cheek to call "dogmatic" while linking to the Huffington Post. That is the left wing Daily Mail, so shamelessly biased. We really do need to be balanced about these issues

  • rate this

    Comment number 426.

    David Windsor (388), you say:

    "I believe many thousands of people are getting disability benefit when actually fit to work."

    I'm genuinely interested to know how you have come to believe this. Do you personally know thousands of fraudulent claimaints? If not then can you quote your source so I can check it against other fraud rates sources.

  • rate this

    Comment number 425.

    Re:402 - There are disabled people who work but are also entitled to DLA, and it is the result of this benefit that they can work. There are too many people out there who believe that Benefits equals unemployed, no matter the benefit claimed and this is most definitely not the case.

  • Comment number 424.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 423.

    I can't understand why a spouse or partner, living in the same accommodation as their "loved one" should qualify for "Carers Allowance" if no carer is actually employed. Neither do I understand why taxpayers should support children they did not bring into this world. We must break the dependency culture & get people to take responsibility for themselves. The proposals are not radical enough.

  • Comment number 422.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 421.

    It seems many people believe these changes are to root out fraudsters. The simple fact is they are not nor will they prevent it.
    The changes are about trying to cut money paid to claimants by moving the goalposts (ie the 20m rule) by denying assistance to those who were previously entitled.
    Perversely, the only ones to benefit will be ATOS who will be hugely rewarded even when they get it wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 420.

    Every day I dread seeing the news, I am fearful of what I will read next, the Bedroom Tax, Council Tax, Freezes to Benefits abuse by the media Politicians and the Public of the poor (workers) unemployed, sick, and now the disabled.

    I unfortunately fall into three of the above categories, sick disabled and unemployed.

    Despair is how i feel at the moment, and fearful of an uncertain future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 419.

    @393 "i saw a champion cycle cross rider on the news a few weeks ago who claimed to be disabled"

    Not everyone who is disabled is physically and /or mentally incapable (as demonstrated by the Paralympics).

    Similarly not everyone who is disabled is claiming or trying to claim or even needs /wants DLA.

    Disability is not just black or white; there are far more than fifty shades of grey in between.

  • Comment number 418.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 417.

    Being blind, injured or struck by disease is not a lifestyle choice.

    Being a landowner who gets handouts from Europe is.
    Using lawyers to avoid paying tax morally owed is.
    Attacking all the poor because a few abuse the system is.
    Failing to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves is.

    Voting for people who support these iniquities is a choice. Write to your MP, use your choice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 416.

    I approve of the face-to-face checks as that may stamp out some of the fraudsters but I'm not sure why lifetime DLA awards have to be rechecked. It's not like I'm going to suddenly grow another eye to replace the one I've lost is it? Or change my prescription in my remaining eye from -27 to 0?

  • rate this

    Comment number 415.

    Thatcher claimed that there was no such thing as 'society'. Because of each government since then, what the Tories are promoting now and what Labour are claiming what they're going to do, society has gone. As a country we don't really want to support and look after people. I don't mean the cheats or those who don't want to work, but as we're told, there's not many of those anyway. Sigh..end of.

  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

    It's a great pity that those 'professionals' conducting eligability tests are paid a bounty on the number of claiments they turn down. Is their professional credibilty worth nothing? Once cash rewards for achieving a 'target' are made, objectivity is replaced by avarice. Most of us tax payers would balk if our own Doctors were rewarded for making a pre ordained diagnosis when we were examined.

  • rate this

    Comment number 413.

    Broken spine. In work. Blue badge. Unsuccessful claim.

  • rate this

    Comment number 412.

    If all the people lobbying for the the changes to DLA be scrapped then my daughter will lose out considerably as she will be much better off under the new system because the old system does not properly address her lack of independance due to her learning difficulties.

  • rate this

    Comment number 411.

    The benefits system is clearly broken. I personally know of one family, living in a very posh area of central London who get all their accomodation paid. Neither the grandparents, the parents or the kids work and they claim all manner of other benefits. Yet they still manage to have an active social life and several holidays a year. Worse still, they keep horses and, I believe, several corgis.

  • rate this

    Comment number 410.

    DLA should have always been means tested.

    The knock on effect of PIP is going to actually prevent some people from being able to get to a job, which is self defeating for the government's objective

    Also, many claimants have a "can't do" attitude, so focusing on what a person "can do" is good, but needs to be realistic

    Some people really are unemployable, but will ATOS tell the truth about them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 409.

    It's absolutely right that anyone claiming ANY welfare hand out should have to prove their entitlement to it. See the example of the guy who was in receipt of DLA because he had acne - what a joke.

    If people previously receiving DLA won't have a medical to prove their PIP that's their problem. They aren't being excluded and 'missing out', they're refusing to comply with the rules


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