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"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit...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 728.

    Currently, 49% of households receive more money from the tax payer than they contribute (including state pensions) meaning 51% of households are paying for 49% of households and this number of people not contributing is increasing. I am not saying that reducing this particular benefit is an answer but it is not a sustainable situation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 727.

    Government is a non profit organisation. Money raised in taxes should be spent. The only decisions to be made are how much revenue to raise and how to spend the money. Perhaps there should be a national debate on how much each person should contribute and then leave the government to distribute it. Government must learn to live within its means or be brave enough to raise tax and lose elections.

  • rate this

    Comment number 726.

    I agree, it is unedifying seeing delight taken at the passing of a life.

    Lets get it straight, she did nothing for this country. No more manufacturing, no more houses, no more bank regs, no more employment in vast swathes of the UK.

    Of course though, I happen to think the country is the people, and all of our work should be toward improving the lives of the people. Others disagree, obviously.

  • rate this

    Comment number 725.

    The BBC's article and news on benefit changes show the usual bias,lack of objectivity and balance. Commonsense says the probability the present recipients are all bona fide claimants is a patent nonsense as was the system which gave them those benefits. Already hundreds of thousands have declined to be assessed is evidence enough. This Govt is on the right track and the Labour attitude is a joke.

  • Comment number 724.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 723.

    Judging by some of the comments on Thatcher,some people view her as some sort of God or Saint.For people of the Conservative persuasion,dont forget even our own Monarch,wasn't very "Keen".

  • rate this

    Comment number 722.

    In short, I agree with the need for regular checks, but only by qualified medical professionals who aren't set quotas and don't rely on narrow, inflexible tests for determining need when disability isn't all about being able to walk 20 metres without collapsing.

    Have a look around the web for examples of the shocking treatment some people have suffered at the hands of Atos.

  • rate this

    Comment number 721.

    From 697. Avalon:
    "@666.Crow, the discrepancy could simply be down to the region they work in."

    Fair point. I still think Benbowlane's comment is dodgy though. 80%... Note that he doesn't say 80% of WHAT. As any scientist will tell us, that's a very bad misuse of statistics! It is a formal matter of national record that DLA has an amazingly low level of fraud, compared to many other benefits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 720.

    No way will I lay myself open to a charge of racism. I will not report."

    I believe the Benefit Fraudline is anonymous so your risk, assuming it is reasonable, is negligible. So, go ahead secure in the knowledge that abuses of the system can be reported without such an accusation.

    How could reporting (say) Mick Philpotts or Karen Matthews be described as "racist"?

  • rate this

    Comment number 719.

    @705.where am I

    Even the actual figures from the gov themselves show that the fraud rate is less than 1% across all benefits. This is tracked figures. So who is making the mountain out of the mole hill? They're spending massive amounts of money to chase this 1% up and it'll cost more than what the fraudsters are costing and will destroy the lives of genuinely needy people in the process.

  • Comment number 718.

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

  • Comment number 717.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 716.

    When I said I was fit and healthy, the person asked if "I was sure" and if I ever got things like regular migranes etc that might affect my ability to work. Having already declared myself fit to work, there was no need for hints as to ways I could declare myself disabled.

  • rate this

    Comment number 715.

    I've a chronic disabling neurological illness that however much physio or drugs I have, however hard I fight it; it is gradually worsening. I've been assessed by ATOS & indepent Dr's incl home visits and reports from my consultants and GP. I'm assessed every 3yrs & I'm used to it. Most disabilities get worse over time not better. Its a money saving exercise with lots of spin from Govt to justify.

  • rate this

    Comment number 714.

    So you have a bad limp we can shorten the other leg at the knee if that would helps. caring Conservatism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 713.

    Where there is hope may we bring despare
    Where there is peace may we bring war
    Where there is work may we bring unemployment
    Where there is poverty may we spread it further

  • rate this

    Comment number 712.

    ooooh the spelling police have told me off :)
    I noticed the typo but no edit field on here!

  • rate this

    Comment number 711.

    Lets hope MT is reincarnated soon as a PM...

  • rate this

    Comment number 710.

    It is said you can tell what a society is like by the way they treat their weakest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 709.

    "The middle class thrived after her tenure, she did what she set out to do"

    Unfortunately they thrived on their rocketing house prices rather than the payment for their productive contribution and so they did little but hollow out the wealth producing part of the economy with raised living / working costs. Talk about a giant own goal


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