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"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit...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 568.

    Pensioners next.

    Give it a few year and we won't get a pension, bus pass, or Winter Fuels allowance till we are 66 or 67, and it'll creep forward from there.

    The next generation will work till they drop.

  • rate this

    Comment number 567.

    BREAKING NEWS. In an attempt to recreate Victorian society, the government is to reintroduce rickets and ringworm. Workhouses will be in the Tory manifesto for the next election. In order to cope with the increased debt caused by lower wages, as employers bring pay into line with lower benefits, and the upcoming freeze on the minimum wage, the government is to ask G4S to run debtor prisons.

  • rate this

    Comment number 566.

    @541 You are a prime example of what is wrong with this country - you think that all you have to do is pop out a couple of kids and us tax payers will subsidise you and your family for life. Benefits should be cut, not for the disabled, but for people like you with no intention of working, because your little ones "would miss you". What about all of the working mothers? Terrible attitude!

  • rate this

    Comment number 565.

    @4. FishOnADish
    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.

    Not every disabled person needs DLA.

    Through one of my disabilities I will meet an early end but am fully employed & through taxation contribute towards those who do need DLA.

    Like most taxpayers I also want to see my taxes used fairly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 564.

    This is what it comes to after decades of political correctness which is supervised by numerous campaign groups - "You can have whatever you need (meaning: want) - until the money runs out.

    Then most people will have the shock of their lives to know it's not within their birth right to have a house, a car, a holiday in Spain, or as many children as they would fancy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 563.

    I'm just fed up with the money that I pay in taxes being wasted through the entire benefits system, do away with the whole benefit system, lower taxes all round etc etc....

  • rate this

    Comment number 562.

    Another example of the North/South divide.
    Why did the changes not get rolled out country wide at the same time as opposed to the North being targeted.
    It's that Londoncetric view that all Northerners are on the scrounge.

  • rate this

    Comment number 561.

    I won appeal to go into ESA Support Group. Tribunal lasted 7 MINUTES. Appealed as ATOS made up a medical report(which I was NOT asked to attend) also when I went to the jobcebtre (WRAG) adviser said he could see that I should not be there. It shows that ATOS are incompetant.DLA claimants reassessed by ATOS and Capita - how much "Tax Payers money" is the goverment to waste again for appeals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 560.

    I have suffered a serious chronic illness for many years, and last year had my Incapacity benefit stopped. I was told to go to the Jobcentre for help, but as I have not paid Class 1 contributions during this time I am not entitled to Jobseekers even though I am job hunting (without success). I feel very sorry for people who will lose their benefits, as the infirm are not attractive to employers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 559.

    It's not as if they're scrapping payments for those with disability altogether. They're ensuring that ONLY the people who GENUINELY need it get it. Periodic reassessment is entirely reasonable - if nothing's changed it will be clear but conditions can and do improve, possibly allowing someone to work again in a suitable job. If payments are more appropriate, there will be more for the neediest.

  • Comment number 558.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 557.

    My cousin got herself registered as having Aspergers and so doesn't have to work and her boyfriend is her carer. At 17 she is set up for life. I have Aspergers but that hasn't stopped me from attending Oxford University and holding down a successful career. What we need is help not handouts, coping strategies not cop-outs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 556.

    PIPs will be introduced gradually for new claimants, starting in Merseyside, Cumbria, Cheshire and North East England.

    Why is the North always the guinea pig for these ideas ??

  • rate this

    Comment number 555.

    "Margaret Allen is registered blind and unable to work."

    This implies that all blind people are unable to work? Whenever, I read these stories it's always "Some condition" followed by "unable to work", rather than "Some condition" - unable to be a lumberjack.

    I have a medical condition myself, that doesn't qualify for DLA but bars me from some jobs for public safety reasons.

    Where's the can do?

  • rate this

    Comment number 554.

    Fortunately it's not a subject I have any personal experience of, but one thing that does seem to be the case is that more and more people are being classified as 'Disabled'. provioding the benefit in the first place!This can't keep going on otherwise the whole population will end up being classified as 'Disabled'! This gets the hackles up of those of us whose taxes go towards

  • rate this

    Comment number 553.

    Like SO MANY i have paid my NI for decades!! NOBODY IN TV OR RADIO is raising this point as an issue:
    (1) It can not be that my PAID for benefits are to deminish via a cap of 1% limit!!!
    (2) Having suffered bowel cancer i was opened up and gutted like a fish. Now i am disabled and struggle to cope so I JUST WANT PEACE!!! Again: I PAID FOR MY BENEFITS!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 552.

    You will always have those who are able to unfairly claim benefits at the expense of the genuine cases. There are people out there who have got away with it for years simply because the authorities are afraid to challenge claims for fear of the dreaded Human Rights violation. Anything that ensures the genuine cases are looked after is progress albeit small and late.

  • rate this

    Comment number 551.

    With ESA we saw a lot of people declared fit for work then denied JSA because they are too severely disabled and unfit for work.Catch 22. Could you survive on no money? People are not being moved into work they are being moved onto less benefits and into a job market that will employ the able bodied before the disabled and it's just killing people and it seems like too few people care.

  • rate this

    Comment number 550.

    Duncan Smith,Cameron and Osbourne even Clegg from the lesser party has no idea what it's like to live in the real world.Yes benefits as a HAVE TO BE REDUCED and targeted at the people who really need it no sprayed around to all and sundry as they are.If you are severely disabled then you should be somewhere where you are looked after properly not dumped with a few quid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 549.

    The system is a farce and a disgrace!

    Job centre is trying to force a friend of mine into work training when he has severe epilepsy, is on strong medication and is waiting to have a brain operation done. They have no sympathy or commonsense, just targets.


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