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"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit...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 828.

    make my day

  • Comment number 827.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 826.

    Tory, socialist, liberal - who cares? The system needs to be fair, transparent and encourage individuals to contribute to their utmost ability. The fewer who claim fraudulantly = more for those who are genuine. A good place to start would be to define what a real disability is before determining if the "disability" is genuine. Fat, depressed or even alcoholic shouldn't be on the list!

  • rate this

    Comment number 825.

    811. kev -Its called freedom of speech, something we fought the far right during WW2 for. And yes the freedom to insult and offend is covered in that, as for your suggestion that we should be tortured, imprisoned or regulated for free speech like the do in those countries what kind of person says that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 824.

    People should read the article and the government spending plans. This is not a cut, the same will be spent! I know this looks like a good oportunity for lefties to have a bash but it's too important for spin and political bull. This is getting as ridiculous as calling the only minister to argue against the withdrawal of kids milk in the 70s the "milk snatcher".
    please look at the facts

  • rate this

    Comment number 823.

    Lifetime DLA awards are for life! what does the government not understand about that? Their own doctors made those medical decisions - so those people who have lifetime DLA decisions should properly be able to take the government (the tax-payer) to court if their benefit is cut. Hidden cost of stupid legislation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 822.

    The real disgrace is the BBC and labour scaring the most vulnerable people in society .
    Genuine claiments are safe . This message is being buried under the scare stories .
    But then again what do you expect .

  • rate this

    Comment number 821.

    It seems to me that no matter how genuine a benefits claimant is, those who've never had to claim find some derogatory comments about them and agree with reducing or stopping their money. Have any of these people ever tried to live on DLA? I have a young son who's autistic and who's had cancer which means being monitored for life. Without his DLA or PIP, he won't be able to live as he can't work.

  • Comment number 820.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 819.

    There are serious problems ongoing with our various flavours of governors who impose system after system of control over a nation that simply wants to get on with its own business. The well heeled and the wanting are divided by battle for minds and hearts of well to do's.

    After three terms, top tax went to 50p simply to embarrass incoming Tories and provide a stick for Labour. Pathetic contempt.

  • Comment number 818.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 817.

    There can't be many who don't want to see disability payments only going to those who actually need it. My concern is the unfit-for-purpose ATOS assessments.

    A very large % of the claims they have denied have subsequently been appealed at great cost in legal fees, money that could have gone to worthy recipients instead of lawyers.

    Not to mention the suicides and stress

  • Comment number 816.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 815.

    This does not discrimminate enough between those who are physically disabled and mentally disabled. It is Thatcherism at its worse. The vagueness of what is disability and the unacknowledged flaws of the back to work test have not been adressed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 814.

    IDS is lying when he says "Taxpayers pay out £50bn in sickness and disability benefits".DWP expenditure forecast for 2012/13 is £165.971bn.Pensioners get £109.65bn & children £1.658bn.Of the remaining £54.663bn,£20.21bn is sickness and disability benefits.The other £34.453bn is housing benefit,council tax benefit,maternity pay,& jobseekers allowance - but why let the truth get in the way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 813.

    749. MCGibbo

    "screw the disabled debate eh? "

    Not at all - Its called satire.

  • rate this

    Comment number 812.

    Having seen a guy with a guide dog and a white stick playing snooker and a fruit machine, I reported him.
    Guess what - nothing happened.
    The crack down on benefits is long overdue.
    Maybe we could create jobs and form a new benefit police force?

  • Comment number 811.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 810.

    The present day Tory party are a pale shadow of their former selves.

    I'm sure Margaret Thatcher, for all her faults, wouldn't have bashed the disabled in this way. IDS should hang his head in shame,

  • rate this

    Comment number 809.

    785 fair comment
    hate to admit it but one fact is right, not strong enough in fact Labour lied about immigration - you knew I knew we all knew the Tories knew better than anyone but did nothing - worse they are lying themselves in the same way about the same thing, the expected numbers of immigrants after Jan 1st 2014


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