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"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit...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 628.

    Sorry, this story is on the BBC business page because??

  • rate this

    Comment number 627.

    And to all of those who ask why the Government doesn't focus on tax avoidance... did you not hear the Budget? A general anti-abuse rule that combats abusive tax avoidance, a cap on the amount of tax relief the rich are allowed to claim, new measures to combat corporation tax avoidance - the system has gone the other way, we now cant give clients any certainty over how much tax they have to pay!

  • rate this

    Comment number 626.

    Tories started the DLA in '92 to help the real disabled get the bens they need. Labour lost control; coalition are fixing the mess.

    A guy who opened the bowling and batting for my cricket team wanted a discount on subs as he was on the DLA! Strange he won't be claiming go forward.

    So far all that people can say is they 'may' lose out. Go through the process then shout if you are mistreated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 625.

    Remove all benefits for wealthy pensioners (if we are talking about scroungers, then we mean people who take without need)

    Increase the minimum wage and remove all in work benefits (if you work, you should be paid properly)

    Cap rents.

  • rate this

    Comment number 624.

    To stop the obvious, she'll have to be buried at sea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 623.

    Funny how there is no change in the Benefits bill for those who get and take handouts they don't need including the Rich. Depressing this debate in the last week has failed to highlight the need for jobs and housing.

    Perverse indeed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 622.

    For all those who know of benefit fraudsters but seem unable to use a search engine - 0800 854 440 is the number to ring.

    Sad to see the Me culture that the Wicked Witch of Grantham introduced is alive and well even if she has just died. Anyone know where the grave will be so that we can all have a "knees up" on it ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 621.

    I was medically retired by my workplace at at Police HQ on highest disability.
    Claiming DLA was hard with the paperwork and doctors report; but claiming ESA was a nightmare. Forms then ATOL assessment, they don't look at any recent medical reports or even assess you; they ask questions like "can you watch TV?". The put me in Work grp; despite my severe condition. So stressful my health worsen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 620.

    Labour tries to win votes by implying all disabled people will lose their benefits shocker! Contratory what the left want us to believe, 100% of the disabled won't find themselves cut off. It is right that those claiming are tested periodically depending on the disability and help provided as needed. Hopefully those falsely claiming will be banned and free up funds for those in most need to aid.

  • Comment number 619.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 618.

    Breaking news Margret Thatcher found fit to work by ATOS!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 617.

    At last something is being done to tackle the abuse of the benefits system! Living on Benefits shouldnt be a lifestyle choice and should be for those people who have no other choice not because they cannot be asked to get off their backside!

  • rate this

    Comment number 616.

    “Taxpayers pay out £50bn in sickness and disability benefits”. So what? UK taxpayers pay hundreds of billions of pounds a year to do-no-work-for-money shareholders in dividends by paying higher than necessary prices for basic goods and services. The Tory agenda is always to question the poor and disabled and never to question the selfishness and idleness of their own wealthy supporters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 615.


    I work as a DWP Fraud Investigator. I investigate with either depression or a bad back. 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.

    Good - far too little investigation, but you aren't chasing targets. Jusdt checking. 80% of those targetted, or 80% of those on benefits?

  • rate this

    Comment number 614.

    Andy 543 is right,I gave house,car money and paid ex wife's legals(£20000) for clean brake settlement,she then rang up even more debt,had more children,given housing,benefits etc her partner never worked,they live near Gatwick always loads of work yet they have never even attempted to work (for 10 years)as the system helps them not to.Why does the state actively condone and abet these scrounges?

  • rate this

    Comment number 613.

    Love her or hate Her, She stuck up for this country, RIP Iron Lady

  • Comment number 612.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 611.

    416 Reel2Real.
    when i was just starting out on my working life i had to travel by train from the Wirral to James Street Station in Liverpool. Every day there was a chap on my train very smartly dressed in a suit and he held a white stick. He was totally blind yet he made his way to work like the rest of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 610.

    Something does need to be done, but done in fairness!

    There are many many people who find it hard but yet there are some 'who can swing the leg, two of them down our Street... one of them swigs a couple of can's of beer before going for a check up, so whoever can smell the alcohol... they other one will claim for a dog flea!

    Whats disgusting is they can be heard bragging about it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 609.

    I agree with reel2real. There is nothing wrong with face to face checks. However common sense should prevail, it never does. I've just had to fill in another form for a new claim. I have MS and my condition is never going to improve only worsen so why should I have to prove yet again that I can't walk.


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