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"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit...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 848.

    I understand that a lot of People are frauding the system ......I agree with a check on the Health as well I have nothing to hide but,I will also say that my Doctor, Nurses and Consultant should have a say they are the ones that see me, have my X-Rays, I worked 30 years of my life before I got struck with this which broke me, so by all means do things right but do not make the genuine ones suffer

  • rate this

    Comment number 847.

    It's not the testing that's the issue - it's the moving of the goalposts in a effort to save money that we're against. It will result in people unfit to work being forced to work. That is ATOS's job. Bring it testing - however to change the criteria of what constitutes a claim - with absolutely no consultation is unacceptable and dangerous - all to save a tiny amount in welfare

  • rate this

    Comment number 846.

    It is about time that the system was changed I know a couple who both get the higher rate of DLA as they cannot read or write my husband could do neither but kept a job the man now gets a carers allowance of around £500 per month and his wife collects that money does her own shopping washing etc.,I get £14000 p.a. half of what they get and pay tax on £4000. It is just not fair

  • rate this

    Comment number 845.

    It's unfortunate that 99% of people are missing the whole point of this important benefit.
    DLA (disability living allowance) is there to protect people with disabilities who have additional costs due to there disability. It has nothing to do with whether they work or not. This is an incredibly dangerous change that results in people who have a disability being penalised financially for having it

  • rate this

    Comment number 844.

    To weed out scroungers who choose to use a "get out of work card" for a "disability" that does not exclude them from all employment or the unscrupulous "fakes" who feed off the state at the expense of the those in genuine need is not "demonising the sick. More staff to investigate, name, shame and demonise those who take from those who need it most.

  • rate this

    Comment number 843.

    I myself recieve DLA and as I know that I am legitimately claiming this benefit I cannot see what there is to worry about for people that genuinely need this help, for the DLA system to give this benefit and never re-check whether the person needs it is ridiculous anyway so I have no problem with face to face interviews and re-checking my eligibility. A long overdue necessary change in my opinion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 842.

    I completely agree that we need to review everyone who is claiming DLA to ensure that it However the people being paid by the government are not medically trained and do not have the knowledge or skills to make such judgements in the case of more complex diseases.

  • rate this

    Comment number 841.

    its all very well Maragret Allen complaining she might loose her petrol allowance. With all due respect, why does she have it at all. She is blind and doesnt drive, thankfully. Her husband drives and i assume he isnt blind ? Therefore he doesnt need petrol payments ? If you have a car, its a luxury that you choose to have therefore if you cannot afford to run it, then you shouildnt have it ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 840.

    Its about time the rules were changed does anyone in the UK not know someone cheating the system. Many people are using their skills as professional state scroungers to milk the UK for all it is worth. Someone needs to stand up to the crooks the genuine will then be able to get what they deserve. Fear of standing up to benefit cheats because publicity like is their chosen weapon costs us all!

  • Comment number 839.

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

  • Comment number 838.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 837.

    @802.brownbear, to see where taxes go check out this http://www.one.org/c/international/actnow/4409/

    Welfare is 33% of the overall expenditure, even Health (~13%) & Education (~17%) dont add up to the welfare expenditure.

    the amount towards the National Dept is only ~7.

  • Comment number 836.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 835.

    The governent has a responsibility to create an enviroment that everyone can feed clothe keep themselves warm and have shelter they have even closed disabled workshops

  • Comment number 834.

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

  • Comment number 833.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 832.

    If there is anybody in this country who does not know at least one person claiming disability allowance who should not then they are living in a different country that I inhabit

  • rate this

    Comment number 831.

    Re 750 - Labours human rights acts stops Govt doing anything about immigrants and will be blocked by Lib/Lab in parliament!
    Re 761 - Brown funded new schools/hospitals by borrowing £50bn of private funding so taxpayer has to repay £250bn - classic Labour deal!
    Re 796 - no checks are made, no one has ever checked my Sons claim in 8 years!

  • rate this

    Comment number 830.

    Are they going to close the Tax loopholes / giveaways ?
    For example the dodgy royaillty payments between group companies, that reduce UK corp tax bills?
    If the taxes were paid, the public finances would be healthier.
    Will they only be happy when folks are dying en masse in the streets?
    Or will they be bringing back workhouses ?

  • Comment number 829.

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


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