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"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit...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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  • Comment number 748.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 747.

    It should be obvious to all by now that we can no longer afford to look after the sick and ill. Would anyone aware of working families or working individuals who are getting benefits, please report those people. I believe there is a hotline phone number for this purpose.

    Do your duty and report them. Such people belong in jail where they cannot milk the system. There are millions of them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 746.

    696 I think you are either far too nice to DC or plain naive. His experience with disability extends to his child and for that he had 5 nannies looking after him - no experience as normal people have - he is just a posh Bullingdon boy who is targetting the poor/ vunerable to mask his fellow rich millionaires in the media & banking that have got off scot-free by politically illiterate voters

  • rate this

    Comment number 745.

    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?
    My point was more to do with the fact that there is only so much to go around and the number of disabled people is huge. So someone has to decide where the money is most needed and an claimant cant do that

  • rate this

    Comment number 744.

    My daughter has a learning disability. She will always have it; she isn't going to wake up one morning without it and it won't improve over the course of her life. That's why she was awarded DLA on a "for life" basis. But that contract the State made with her, to support her life, has been unilaterally set aside. This is of dubious legality; it's immorality is beyond question.

  • Comment number 743.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 742.

    I wonder how Maggie would have felt about the fact her funeral will be nationalised?

  • rate this

    Comment number 741.

    696. Dave1506

    Yes its real easy to defraud the system with a wheelchair bound child.

    You try reading the same kids book, 10 times a day, 365 days a year, for 18 years to a child with a mental age of 12 months - and see if you feel able to work for a living.....

    Its not so bad (as in Cameron's case) if the family has wealth - and you can afford the support that is needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 740.

    I have made many friends through my supermarket low-pay work. Friends tease me that I am super-rich because I am busy at work but always happy. In recession, work is a privilege. I feel sorry for people losing their jobs. We don’t mind government allocating more resources to help them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 739.

    The Government are obsessed with "getting people off benefits and back to work", yet they are perfectly happy to keep murderers and rapists etc. in prison and give them a room, a bed, free meals and use of a phone, not to mention a TV. Is this punishment? It costs far more to keep this scum!

  • rate this

    Comment number 738.

    @719 kitty
    do you think the DWP really want to admit the true number, making THEM look like fools?

  • rate this

    Comment number 737.

    If we spent our time never doing anything for fear of offending someone or having to deal with an unplanned consequence, we'd end up being governed by a nanny state where everyone is scared of their own shadow and speaking the truth! No one would act and no one would ever report crime or fraud because the system would be so PC that no one would ever be punished anyway - hang on....

  • rate this

    Comment number 736.

    What amount of "pension" was paid to Baroness Thatcher??
    How much will the politicians ( both sides) retire on ??
    Will the Royals still get taxpayer funds ?? and will Harry and William finally get a real job???
    The rest of you can move to Spain or Portugal and use their health system ( NHS is stuffed) and enjoy the sun and sangria.
    You guys do NOT want to be part of Europe, stay in old UK.

  • Comment number 735.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 734.

    Two thirds of all welfare payments goes on, lone couples who do not work , living in three bedroomed council houses, have free travel, have their rent and Council tax paid in full by the state. Being paid so much they can go away on foreign holidays at least twice a year and use their heating allowance as spending money. OAPs we know what you are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 733.

    The starting points of this discussion are so narrow, they could slip under my front door, much like the brown envelopes the DWP used to send to me, bless. A lot of it seems very me-me-me, e.g. the self-righteous worker, toiling away in the fields to feed the community whilst the bums, well, bum. The Government have a hand in this, framing things in thoughts of one or two syllables, worker-sized?

  • rate this

    Comment number 732.

    I used to receive DLA. I used to have mental health issues, the only reason I got it was to get me more social.

    Now thanks to Martial Arts my mental health is close to non-existent. Should only be given to people with genuine health problems and approved by a doctor.

    The way it was done for me was via a support worker.

  • rate this

    Comment number 731.

    I had a heart attack some years ago and now have medication. I have to go to my doctor every six months to check that the amount of medication is correct for my condition. Given this is fact do you not agree that claimants for disability benefits should also be checked just as regularly? Seems entirely fair to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 730.

    I dont think taxpayers have any problem with this benefit so long as going to people who genuinly need it.

    Disability benefits are easy to abuse because fraudsters know if investigators make an incorrect accusation theres a public outrage. Its difficult to accurately say what % of claimants are fraudulent, but I suspect its higher than 1% from personal experience.

  • rate this

    Comment number 729.

    @ 141.blagshaw & 226.nutgone

    I agree with you in a very limited sense in that most disabled people are certainly capable of working...BUT your suggestion is seriously flawed as it assumes we live in an ideal world where they have a truly equal opportunity in the job market...they don't and dependant on their level of disability will always struggle to obtain sustained employment.


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