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 78.

    The fact is disabled, elderly and the poor are already marginalised. We already exclude these people from society in many ways. Lets be honest the UK is not the civilised, caring country that people believe, it's becoming cold and heartless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Tackling the fraudsters is only an excuse. It is about dismantling the benefits system.
    MPs pay increase
    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 76.

    Just to answer Aidy's comments on why disabled people need a bit more help, well, I lost mobility 2 years ago after a rare disease. Until then I did all the work in my house and garden. Now, I even have to get someone in to change a lightbulb. Hope that explains it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    @ post 61 "disability" is already clearly defined in the Equality Act. Not everyone who is disabled qualifies for DLA. Only 2 million of the 7.6 million working age disabled people qualify for any level of DLA. That will reduce to around 1.6 million under PIP.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    "could not get from a blue badge parking space to the doors” fair enough except for the rest of we’d consider it a good day if we got to park within 200m not 20. Instead most of us trek daily past 100's of empty spaces set aside for blue badgers, in case they deign to shop rather than send down the assistant – Being disabled is not fun, but it seems that some have gotten used to an unreality

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    Ah, NOW we're seeing the REAL legacy of the Paralympics: quite clearly, the government thinks that, seeing as disabled people can win gold medals, they're obviously not as incapacitated as they've all fooled us into believing! As a result, they obviously need tougher rules. Sickening...

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    45. 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 doesn't have a licence! My wife drives him around. He's got a blue badge so she can park in disabled spots when she takes him out. This is VERY common & is one of the reasons that apparently able bodied people have blue badges.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    Nice to see The Daily Hail readers have decided to post their ill informed views!! The grass IS NOT GREENER on the other fact it is a horrible BROWN COLOUR!

    Please do your own research you would if a subject interested you.

    When IDS/McVey open their mouths we know it is a pack of untruths.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Read the update, on 13th December last Esther McVey stated that because of the need to "assess" how the change to PIP will work the majority will not be reviewed until October 2015 onwards. This joke of a government are obviously aware that appeals will clog the system to breaking point. Look at the whole ESA fiasco, costing more to implement than it is paying out. Election May 2015?????

  • Comment number 69.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    There is always a problem with defining disabled, even more so within defining degrees of disability.

    The disability lobby will always complain about changes in definitions,even if obviously correct.

    According to govt statistics 1 in 6 of the working population in UK is disabled. I simply do not believe majority of people will agree with that, which would indicate the definitions are wrong

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    @57 - ATOS are well named, because they couldn't gave atos about disabled people, only their own profits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    how can the government say claim on one hand that even with the walking distance reduction from 50m to 20m numbers still claiming would be roughly the same however the change would save roughly £2.0billion.something tells me that once again those in power have got their sums wrong and are sticking two fingers up at the disabled so much for a caring society

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Many 'disabled' are easily able to get around. Witness two I know(claiminging pensions, pension credits, free housing, free council tax, disability payments, additional help with heating bills and furnishings etc.. One spends about two thousands pounds a year on the bus free pass(as was done pre reaching retirement age), for pleasure.

    The genuine need help, the others are purely self-indulgent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    This is purely a money saving exercise to subsidise the failed business in the city of London. We should have done the same as Iceland and let the failed banks go to the wall.

    There is very little fraud involved in DLA. The government would be better employed stopping tax loopholes and chasing the fraudsters with overseas bank accounts full to the brim with money that has not paid any penny tax

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    I think benefits for the wealthy should be cancelled completely. Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson claims Disability Living Allowance despite being quite wealthy already, it is people like her that are causing the problems within the benefits system. Benefits should be there for the poor working classes, not the middle and upper classes. It is poor people who pay the most tax through VAT.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    9 Minutes ago

    "We're living longer. My father in law has a blue badge. He's an 82 year old ex miner with a collapsing spine"

    I have nothing against disability benefits in general or your father in particular, who sounds like a thoroughly deserving case - however, he would appear to be in a minority nowadays.

    Its too easy to wheel out the exception to justify the mob...

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    When we talk about Disabilities I think it would be helpful to have a clear concise and easily digestible definition of Disabled that can be agreed and applied. At the moment I am not sure how wide or narrow the definition is in this context.

    Depending upon one’s parameters I am sure that almost everyone has a disability in some respect

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    It's not just the disabled that are being targeted.

    It is the Old ,families,children,the poor, un waged ,public sector worker,pretty much everyone else who doesn't earn more than £150K a year.

    Yes indeed this government is an equal opportunity victimiser
    Tory derives from the Irish word for outlaw, robber or brigand and they are doing their best to live up to all Three.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    What is it with Tories and repeatedly kicking disabled people in the face?

    They can't help themselves, can they? Is it like some kind of sport to them? Where they award themselves some kind of points system? With a prize for the most cruel or something?

    Or is it nothing more than a bit of a laugh for them?


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