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 58.

    My sister receive the mobility allowance because he son who has downs syndrome.

    He had trouble walking when he was about 2 but how he's 12 he can walk and run as well as me and has been able too since he was 6. She still gets a blue badge for him and an allowance towards a car.

    Yes there does need yearly evaluation on ability’s as this is tax payers money wasted. What else is wasted?

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Ah well, so much for free speach!

    Apparently critising the attitude of ATOS nurses - despite BBC reports on the issue plainly spelling out their goals in the checks - is now defamatory.

    How long before speaking out against gov policy is defamatory?

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    The official fraud rate for DLA is 0.5% (ie 1 in 200 is fraudulent). Any fraudulent claimant should be sanctioned but it is only a very small minority that commit fraud.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    While there are many genuine disabilities requiring financial support, the system is being massively abused. Being overweight as a lifestyle choice should not be rewarded with benefits.

    The two main 'contenders' in our village aren't disabled and even keep reporting each other. One is teaching their daughter how to act disabled. 100K van, three electric buggies yet runs around geocaching

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Labour lovers on here. If labour had been left in power the disabled would be getting nothing has all the money would have been spent wake up there would be no money 3rd world for the UK

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    If the benefits changes are such a great idea, why are the disabled being excluded from them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    @ Wideboy Peter, Do you really think its wise an 82 year old man driving if his spine is collapsing? I think he should surrender his licence.
    He will have a designated driver..

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    All disabled register as a mercinary in Syria, will get paid a damn site more from this Government and no tax!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    I agree that a fair assessment of a person's dsability is right & proper to ensure a person gets the right help / benefits they need.

    That being said, when I see an uncaring Govt including this as yet another one of their cuts to reduce spending / deficits then it makes me think some very uncharitabe thoughts about MP's and disabilities....

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    32. Victor McKinnon “Yet they; the MPs want a 32% pay rise for themselves.”

    As the BBC didn’t see fit to have a HYS on THAT story you could go and sign the e-petition against it instead

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    How, in a democratic society, would disabled 'fit in'?

    Equal partnership accepted as basis of self-government, all would all be 'free to give', rather than obliged to defend (self & family & friends & future generations) against 'the slaves of fear & greed', against ourselves

    Under unstable inequality, none but the Quixotic can risk not 'taking advantage' of every 'right': use it or lose it

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    I have little doubt that, like in all other sections of society, there will be a number of disabled people who lie about or exaggerate their circumstances to obtain benefits. The whole benefit system needs to be administered with more checks and balances. That will cost more but I would be happy to pay higher taxes if it meant the cheats were caught and punished.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    What is needed is a benefit that is adequate to live on for all unwaged, no matter the reason why they are not earning - too sick, too disabled, caring for someone, too old or just not able to find a job in the disaster successive governments have made of the economy. To cut out wasteful bureaucracy, give it to everyone: if you earn anything over, you pay tax on it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    25. John M
    " 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

    Peter, Do you really think its wise an 82 year old man driving if his spine is collapsing? I think he should surrender his licence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    I doubt there are many tax payers who begrudge obviously disabled people getting benefits which attempt to level the employment playing field and allow them to live a fulfilling life.
    However there are many people who abuse the system, for example driving around in brand new cars with disability badges when clearly not disabled.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    The difference between 20m and 50m does not separate the disabled from the able bodied, it merely takes money away from people who are clearly unable to work.
    This change is petty, nasty and unfair

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Good news, but why should anyone at all be ghettoised just because this government want to be vindictive against specific sections of society and turn public opinion against them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Amazing another piece on depriving disabled people of benefits & pensioners of sufficient money to live on in old age on another HYS.
    But not a murmur about MP's wanting a 32% pay increase.
    I wonder why?
    Could it be that the BBC would be swamped with protests from contributors about the bare faced audacity & hypocrisy of preaching one thing & doing the exact opposite?
    Parasites the lot of 'em!

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Goat C555

    It helps if you read the article first.

    Back to the union meeting room with you!

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    @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."

    That's about 7% of the UK adult population.


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