Proposed benefit changes could 'exclude disabled'

Walking stick The ability to walk more than 20m is one criteria for the higher mobility rate of PIP

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Disabled people would be "ghettoised and excluded from society" under the new benefit rules, says a crossbench peer.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson says the government needs to "think again" about its last-minute changes to the system of Personal Independence Payments.

It replaces the Disability Living Allowance.

Tougher rules to assess how far people can walk mean many claimants will lose help with transport from April.

Those unable to walk more than 20m would qualify, rather than the previous distance of 50m.

Ministers say the benefit will be targeted at those who need it most.

Start Quote

It is not a tightening of the assessment”

End Quote A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions

But campaigners say thousands of disabled people could lose out.

New rules

About 3.2 million people receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA), a payment of between £20.55 and £131.50 a week to assist them in leading independent lives.

The Department of Work and Pensions maintains it is making an out-dated benefit much clearer. And that broadly the same number of people will be entitled to extra mobility help.

Personal Independence Payment

  • From 8 April 2013 a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP) to replace Disability Living Allowance for eligible working age people aged 16 to 64
  • PIP is based on an assessment of individual need - there will be no automatic entitlement
  • The new assessment will focus on an individual's ability to carry out a range of key activities necessary to everyday life
  • PIP is a non-means-tested and non-taxable cash benefit made up of a Living component and a mobility component

The government hopes to save £2bn as a result of the switch from DLA to PIPs.

We Are Spartacus, an online campaign group about disabled people's views on the welfare system, analysed figures from the Department for Work and Pensions and Motability, the organisation that supplies lease cars and specialist converted vehicles to disabled people claiming the highest mobility rate of Disability Living Allowance.

With an estimated 428,000 fewer working-age disabled people would qualifying for the higher PIP rate by 2018, report co-author Jane Young said: "This not only condemns thousands more disabled people to the worry of losing out under the new benefit and the isolation this will bring. It also highlights the lie that the government's reforms are targeted to support those in need."

She said that of the 173 consultation responses from organisations on the new PIP "only one suggested the qualifying distance for those who have the most difficulty getting around should be changed."

The Department for Work and Pensions said it had received strong feedback suggesting a need for the 20m measure to bring clarity over the assessment criteria.

Start Quote

This will really radically changes how disabled people are able to integrate into society”

End Quote Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson Former Paralympian

A spokeswoman said: "It is not a tightening of the assessment - our modelling shows that, after this change, the number of people receiving the enhanced rate of the mobility component as a result of the 'moving around' activity will be broadly the same.

"The intention of the criteria remains the same - to make sure support is targeted at those who need it most, by making sure those who receive the enhanced rate of the mobility component are those who face the greatest barriers to mobility."

Baroness Grey-Thompson said at her local supermarket she could not get from a blue badge parking space to the doors - 20m is not that far, she said.

The former Paralympian and member of the all-party parliamentary disability group said she had a "real fear" that disabled people would be "ghettoised and excluded from society", under the new rules.

"I'd really like the government to think again. Not just about changing the distance but about actually what the regulations say to ensure that disabled people are really protected," she told BBC Breakfast.

"It could be that over 400,000 disabled people won't get support - and that means they won't get help with transport, maybe getting their children to school or to getting work, and this really radically changes how disabled people are able to integrate into society."

Baroness Grey-Thompson said there would many appeals in response to the move, which would "clog up the system".

"Appeals cost far more than actually just giving disabled people the benefit in the first place," she said.

Fewer qualifying people would mean 160,000 fewer Motability cars on the road, the analysis suggested, which in other research has been linked to economic losses such as fewer jobs in the Motability-related industries, and lower GDP contributions.

Ms Young said: "Disabled people will be less independent, less likely to be able to get or keep a job, more likely to give up self-employment and less able to care for their children or support other family members."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Please remember that accidents happen, work related illnesses (not soft jobs but manual hard graft), people born with illnesses that cannot be cured. The number of people of who think it a life of luxury have NO idea. IDS/Miller/McVey lied Re: cuts to welfare bill. So much for listening to the Disabled, already made up their minds!!
    Please remember these words "there but for the grace of God go I"

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Just now
    Excuse me but how is "Not being able to walk more than 20m" a tougher test than "Not being able to walk more than 50m"?
    I think if you were disabled you may probably better understand what that felt like.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    The problem with changes like this is that they'll hit the truly disabled harder than those (we know they exist) who fake disability for benefits. Those who are really disabled try their hardest to do what they need to, so will show how far they can actually walk, pushing themselves to the limit in an assessment even though they would be in bed for a week because of it. Fakers will just fake more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    I'm disabled, signed off as unable to work, but because I own my own house, and have some money put aside, I dont qualify for benefit.
    not even help with the drug bill.

    If I'd blown all my money on sky tv, holidays and drink, I'd get benefit and free drugs.

    Luckily for me, I'll recover in the next 6 months, then its back to work and paying taxes

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    I've no problem paying tax to pay for the disabled but I do have a problem with paying for fraudulent claims.

    If the authorities clamped down on the fraud there would be plenty of cash in the system to fund the needs of the genuine cases of disability.

    Until then, like many others I will treat the system with suspicion even though I'm fully aware of how critical the help is for genuine cases.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    The government need to stop telling lies with their claims that these huge, arbitrary cuts are somehow designed to help disabled people play a full role in society when the opposite is true.

  • Comment number 12.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    This coalition is pure evil.

    Nothing more to say.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Excuse me but how is "Not being able to walk more than 20m" a tougher test than "Not being able to walk more than 50m"?

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Disabled people, just like any other section of the economy, should be incentivised to work where possible and helped when needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    The employment status of people making Motability scooters seems like a tenuous argument against.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Some disabled people have been given life time awards of DLA. The government is reneging on a promise to those people. Yes, there are people with made up disabilities, but this is no reason to punish the genuinely disabled who never had a chance of the sort of life most people take for granted in this society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Benefit change could exclude the disabled.

    How appropriate. The one thing that this government seem to do best is exclude the disabled.

    From everything.

    Except from debilitating levels of stress caused by reviews and changes in status. This despite what they can offer this country in so many ways.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    The assessment critetia of PIP is fit for purpose, and is certainly designed to cut costs. A vast number of people will not only lose independence and become isolated. It will have a dramatic effect on mental well being on top of coping with painful conditions. Dignity will be lost having to rely on friends, relatives and neighbours who help voluntarily. Relationships will be damaged.

  • Comment number 4.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    What I find very difficult to believe is that 3.2 million people receive disability benefit. That's a fair proportion of the adult population.

    Surely there can't be that many people with a disability such that the state has to help them ? And maybe there in lies the problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    The disabled should be given the support that they need, not just handed an abstract amount of cash which can then be reduced or increased at a later date.

    Outside of the disabled debate, maybe we should be considering giving benefits to everyone, not just the breeders and scroungers - at least then it could be construed as fair.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    The government's hounding of disabled people who are too ill to work is utterly despicable.

    If only they went after bankers with the same zeal.


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