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 38.

    The Govt likes to monitor things including Happiness! They should track whether disabled people who are "fit to work" and lose benefits actually find work in the competitive market where there are no jobs thanks to their economic policy. This would test whether this policy is anything other than an attack on the disabled.

    Cut the deficit by taking money from people who can afford it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    And since why was walkiing ever the only criteria for mobility? Most people in this country could not lead the lives they do if they were unabled to drive. Many people admit having their driving licence taken away is one of the worst things that could happen to them. It is galling to have vitriol against disabled people from those who would be devasted if they became disabled themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    This Government's policy:

    The rich made richer, the poor made poorer, and the poorer made destitute and the disabled euthanized.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    One of the big problems with this new assesment is that "The new assessment will focus on an individual's ability to carry out a range of key activities necessary to everyday life"

    This is not the same as being able to do the range of activities needed to hold down a job!

    I feel sorry for the truely disabled, this country treats them as a burden, and the gov makes thier disdain clear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    I have no problem with REAL disabled people receiving benefit, I am registered disabled but not in a mobility way and do not receive or need any benefits. However I see so many people with blue badges, who do not work, but are benefit claiments and attend the gym I go to, and are able to do vigorous workouts and classes with no mobility issues at all and they also have 'mobilty' cars.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    25. John M
    In a society with high nutrition, smothering health and safety rules, a comprehensive welfare system and world-class healthcare which is free at the point of delivery, how can it be that the numbers of "disabled" are growing, seemingly exponentially, year after year?
    We're living longer. My father in law has a blue badge. He's an 82 year old ex miner with a collapsing spine

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Already this government has cost me £6,000. I am 60, but I have had an ATOS assessment, I won on appeal. This is not about stream lining the benefit system but the dismantling of the welfare benefits. Yet they; the MPs want a 32% pay rise for themselves. Now there is one thing we could save the county some money on how about a cit in their salary and abolishing inflation-protected pension.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    So, let me get this straight, only being able to walk 30m is different to only being able to walk 20m? If I'm perfectly honest, I'd class both as disabled.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    This was possibly why the changes were left until the 'last minute', in the hope that no-one would notice until too late.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    It seems the argument here is that because there are people who fake disability to gain benefits we should cut the benefits & the qualifying tests rather than tackle the fakers. We need appropriate rules for those who are genuinely disabled & DWP should be doing more to identify and deal with fakers. The answer isn't to make those who genuinely need benefits suffer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    There was huge opposition to the abolition of DLA from disabled organisations and charities. Only 1 in 173 of these groups wanted the mobility criteria changed, so the government are again lying by claiming they are taking such views into account in formulating their policies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Two years and 4 months until the election. Click the up arrow, if you can't wait to see the back of this coalition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Actually the benefit bill for those who are disabled would probably be much higher IF the government didn’t have Atos running a Disability Denial factory.

    People who have real medical conditions and are advise by doctors that they are not fit to work and are disabled are being assed as “Fit for Work” by Atos Healthcare because they get paid to by the government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    In a society with high nutrition, smothering health and safety rules, a comprehensive welfare system and world-class healthcare which is free at the point of delivery, how can it be that the numbers of "disabled" are growing, seemingly exponentially, year after year?

    Something is rotten in the State of Welfare...

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Meant to say assessment criteria for PIP is NOT fit for purpose. The complexities of individuals disabling conditions, and how they function in their daily lives have been ruled out so that only a minority will receive the enhanced rate awards. The 3.2 million - also includes children born disabled at birth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Luckily this government wasn't allowed to get involved in challenging the Paralympian sportsmen and women's eligibility for the 2012 Games. If they had then how many would they have been disqualified as being "shirkers" and "fraudulent"?

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    What a pathetic person #2 farkyss is: I assume (s)he hasn't thought that maybe one day (s)he will be disabled. I mean physically disabled. I am assuming that although a physical disability does not apply to him/her, other forms of disabilities do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    I heard of someone who lost points on their assessment for coming by public transport so now their friend has to drive them each time. Someone else stays up for 2 days and nights to appear really useless at everything without having to put it on much. It's an industry for many and they're always one step ahead of the assessors (no pun intended)

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Dear "Just Call Me Dave",

    I have a piece of paper. Would you like to cut this as well? After all, it will help to justify the ludicrous 32% pay rise all MPs feel they should receive, not to mention ensure that the bankers that caused this mess with the rigging of LIBOR stay in their over paid jobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    This is Left Wing rubbish - misinformation on a grand scale, we must get rid of the scammers who are using fraudulent measures to obtain disability allowance. Anmay I suggest that a lot us know some and are reluctant to use that horrible expression to "grass them up" It needs to be done - do it!


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