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"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit...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 668.

    Sorry I was about to say something treally significant, but I ca't stop laughing for joy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 667.

    When I was briefly unemployed in 2008, the Job Seekers people I spoke to (face to face) when deciding if I had a potential claim asked if I had a bad back or any other "disability". The underlying tone was that they would prefer to classify the person as disabled rather than unemployed as that would effect the targets and politically unpopular. Not sure if that was just that centre or universal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 666.

    From342. benbowlane:
    "I work as a DWP Fraud Investigator. I've lost count of people I investigate with either depression or a bad back.This never stops them walking down the pub or shooting off on moonlight jobs."

    Apparently contradicted by 19. Colchie who also worked in DWP, and also by restated facts of very low fraud in DLA, so I don't beleive you. Who are you trolling for? The govt? Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 665.

    Can we all stop going on about Thatcher? I don't like her, don't agree with her on most things and think that her reforms were (at least in part) responsible for the current recession, yet despite all of this, it is hugely disrespectful and immature to be celebrating the death of an old person just because you disagree with their politics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 664.

    To all those posting disgusting comments about the death of M Thatcher , shame on you , show a bit of dignanty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 663.


    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.

    YOU ARE BIASED your work is involved in investigating fraud, I would imagine that every case you have been asked investigate has been suspicious, we know fraud exists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 662.

    I am on higher rate mobility and often see people get out of cars in disabled spaces, who can walk more that 50m and don't seem to be in any discomfort. I think there are a number of people who don't meet the old less stringent criteria and should be reassessed.

    Mobility should only be for disabled people, other people are benefit cheats!

  • rate this

    Comment number 661.

    You want to see who bred the welfare dependency that we now have to deal with. With her throw them on the scrapheap policy instead of retraining and investing in people (welfare was the cheaper option). RIP Mrs Thatcher but your horrible short term selfish policies will not be missed. As for Welfare we are going to have to tackle the cost but i dont see the jobs or investment that we were promised

  • rate this

    Comment number 660.

    646.philip sayers
    Its called freedom of speach Phillip

  • Comment number 659.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 658.

    Sickening to see comments on Thatcher - at least she had a backbone Blair got UK soldiers killed over lies & started the PC brigade where kids can't have sports days, play conkers & a UK where being on the dole is a lifestyle. Who sticks up for workers now? Milliband & Clegg would have us all work longer to pay for scroungers (some DO exist, honestly!) & mass immigration would increase

  • rate this

    Comment number 657.

    Not much anger is there? It seems that the scroungers are keeping a low profile. Its mainly the Socialist Workers Party who are out demonstrating. Anyone who has genuinely fell on hard times after years of honest work will know what a rotten system welfare is and how it has been manipulated by the professional scroungers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 656.

    Outsourced jobs combined with a system that is too easy to cheat is the problem.

    I was on JSA for 2 months. £86 every 2 weeks due to my taxes I paid in my previous job. Job Centre never checked what I applied for, so you could just lie and get the money. Too easy.

    About time the system was changed. Good move IDS. Good move. Get rid of these scroungers sat at home.

  • rate this

    Comment number 655.


    "I've seen a few posts from people who know someone who has unnecessarily claimed- why haven't you reported them?

    It amazes me how people let others get away with benefit fraud".

    Its proving it of course, but even with proof, just look how the banksters and tax avoiders have laughed in our face, the system is rotten to the core, cronyism and nepotism still rule. !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 654.

    Why setup two agencies to do PIP Health evaluations, when the NHS is better placed (and probably a lot cheaper)?

  • rate this

    Comment number 653.

    fraudsters should be targetted

  • Comment number 652.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 651.

    @614 "her partner never worked,they live near Gatwick always loads of work"


    Around Gatwick you might be unemployed for a short period but long term unemployment is really difficult to understand.

  • rate this

    Comment number 650.

    You have to be 65 or under, she would have help with care if her circumstances warranted it but I suspect she had enough savings.

  • rate this

    Comment number 649.

    (What is going on in this web site? I just marked a comment down and instead it went up).

    How about there being a review of the doctors that issue some of these spurious sick notes.


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