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"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit...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 548.


    i'm guessing you havnt been sensible enough to pay into a private pension , and will be hobbling off down the pub on pension day with a roll up in your mouth , betting on horses and looking in envy at the people that saved and were sensible .... a Labour benefit voter through and through no doubt

    i pay a grand a month in tax alone to keep those that dont wanna work, roll on the cuts .

  • rate this

    Comment number 547.

    A wheelchair should not be seen as a passport to a life of idleness and sloth. For too long physical disability as been used to manipulate the system and the country's goodwill through it's visibility. If there were true parity between physical and mental ill health we would have only half a million claiming for physical disability benefits. This should be the goal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 546.

    No matter what the Right Wing papers say, hospital; tourism costs us (government figures from jeremy rhyming slang) £20 million a year. Most is Irish women coming to have abortions. Given Vodaphone got away with £6 BILLION that's 300 years worth of hospital tourism we aren't going after.

  • rate this

    Comment number 545.

    So how exactly did disabled people cause the recession then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 544.

    There is not much meat left on the bone. Short of outright confiscation of what few assets the tax payer has left. its looking bleak. The tax payer is on open season. they are picked on and very weak no representative wants to help them only punish them. I can see that they will fast become a endangered creature. Once they are gone they will be gone for good ! what will we do then I wonder ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 543.

    "This government is brainwashing people to believe benefits is a dirty word"

    It doesn't need to, my ex wife hasn't worked for 9 years and gets more money than me a month despite my working 40 hours a week in a moderately well paid job earning well above the national average. She just pops out a couple of kids to stay on IS. Disgusting, and I didn't need George Osbourne to point that out to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 542.

    505. Kim Kaze

    Agree totally Kim Kase - to include those who have turned their fortunes into trust funds. We could start with the Royal Family and work down the ladder to include IDS.

    With the profits, we could then erect a 'gotcha' wall next to the 'Ha Ha' wall.

  • rate this

    Comment number 541.

    Its wrong to cut any benifits.
    I have never been able to get a job since I left school and anyway my little ones would all miss me if I was made to work.
    Benifits and Taxis should be going up not down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 540.

    From 52. doctor-at-sea:
    "The money lost from corporate tax avoidance and evasion dwarves the amount lost from benefit fraud, but the government...focuses only on targeting the most vulnerable... The UK public is cheering on from the sidelines"

    My dad, a dentist at sea, would have hated this. Fortunately many people understand the predation now, and realise that they too are not safe anymore.

  • rate this

    Comment number 539.

    I agree that face to face assessments are required (by a Dr) as disability is a difficult issue with needs and required assistance varying greatly. There is no one size fits all. Individual awards need to be made based on their needs (some should have far more than existing amounts for example).

    For permanent disability, only review if the situation gets worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 538.

    With the exception of the very needy and genuine cases, all benefits should be on a points based system where after time they are reduced to nothing,depending on how myuch you have paid in, sad fact is they only seem to cut the taxpayers and the parasites get it for life....

  • rate this

    Comment number 537.

    I am disabled I understand that some people may be cheating the system and need to be stopped how ever the new test for disability is insane and I cannot imagine it will actually last long the idea that someone who can walk 200m is not disabled is foolish, I could walk over a mile in one day, I couldn't do that every day it would be like running a marathon, the tests need to be more individual.

  • rate this

    Comment number 536.

    515. peter
    How much money is required to sit about doing nothing all day?

    What on earth makes you think that just because someone is disabled that they don't work?! What a very narrow minded attitude. The disability allowance helps people, like my totally blind father for example, work (& pay taxes) just like any other able bodied person.

  • rate this

    Comment number 535.

    No money left for essentials?

    Ordinary people suffering due to cuts to benefits and welfare?

    Prices up, wages down?

    Well, blame the Tories if you want. But the real culprits are Labour. They spend, spend, spend on the way they think life should be instead of the way it actually is. They can't help themselves.

    If the country is skint it's a sure sign we've just had a Labour government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 534.

    Mr W: We simply find out more about various health conditions, Aspergers is one that has come on the radar big time relatively recently and I'm now doing voluntary work to explain more about it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 533.

    A problem is that the initial application and award is far too easy to get. So it is very easy to fake the symptoms.

  • rate this

    Comment number 532.

    re #342 What's your point? I don't claim any benefits, but suffer from mental health issues. I manage to earn just enough to live on but it's very difficult, and usually get extremely tired after 2 hours work. I'm not coping and could do with some help. I don't drink and I'm virtually a recluse, but there are occasions when I'm fit enough to walk down to a pub, so that means I'm perfectly healthy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 531.

    To those that moan about paying taxes for the disabled: just remember that you too may need that benefit, one day - no one is beyond it. Or maybe you are those high-earning tax dodgers who begrudge paying your way in society. This country is making the less fortunate pay for the mistakes of the wealthy by making cuts to the welfare system. By the way, I work and have no qualms in contributing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 530.

    Disability benefit – yes for those that actually are unable to work; No for those playing the system

    2,100,000 people called in for medical checks

    Playing the system
    700,000 withdrew their claim
    837,000 fit for work

    Needing support
    367,300 capable of some work
    232,800 unfit for work
    A message for those whining on - the taxpayers are sick of the scroungers!

  • rate this

    Comment number 529.

    I believe in supporting those who genuinely require this assistance. I see no reason however why those who claim this benefit should not have a periodic assessment to check the validity of their claim (plus or minus). If a person requires support for life then that's fine.

    I believe many people, like I, are glad to help those who require it, but absolutely resent those who abuse the system.


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