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 98.

    It amazes me, These people on here who like to bash the disabled, They post a comment but hide under a screen name. Cowards? I hope your lives go well and good health prevails through out your lives. DLA helps, yes, just helps, me live. But I have to carry the label of cheat and scrounger around with me. I have paid into NI stamps since 1965. DLA was designed to be there when live goes wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    “Fewer qualifying people would mean 160,000 fewer Motability ….. fewer jobs in the Motability-related industries”

    Says all you need to know about the disabled lobby.

    Many of us in the real world cannot afford to run cars, find it difficult to afford public transport, especially to get to work, and are struggling with basics such as keeping a roof above our heads.

  • Comment number 96.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    I think there are too many mobility scooters on the pavements these days and have noticed a big increase in obese scooter drivers. I'd like to see less and I'm sure a few lifestyle changes would be more cost effective than cluttering our pavements up with the 'disabled'. They are not roads and any rules that reflect this are beneficial to us all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    Just now
    "The level of ignorance on this subject amazes me,

    A lot of cancer patients don't look disabled either but rely on transport so they can have Chemo daily purely to try and stay alive."

    Wow, I must be really ignorant. So, you get travel allowance now if you get cancer, do you? I didn't know that...

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    Lets scotch this myth that once on DLA you're never re-assessed.I get DLA and have been re-assessed numerous times,the last but one assessment resulted in me getting the low care component,something I hadn't claimed or asked for but apparently I qualified for under the re-assessment procedure.I don't have an issue with regular re-assessments so long as its done fairly and with qualified people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    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.
    Not being able to walk 20m or 50m doesn not mean that you can't work! It simply limits the type of work that you can do. By all means argue against the change but do not assume that disabled means unemployable!

  • Comment number 91.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    A firend of mine gets a free car through motability but both he and his wife work and earn about 10k more a year then me and my husband do.
    I don't begrudge him the car but it just seems wrong when he is financially able to buy his own car. Give the money to those that really need it

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    I know people who were on ESA because of problems walking, they were kicked off because they could walk short distances...the fact that they could not repeatedly do it without significant pain is now overlooked. One appealled but judge said ' we cannot take pain into account'. lots of people now having to claim JSA and if given jobs,will be high on painkillers and unsafe.PIP will be interesting...

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    Evil people doing this to the most vulnerable,who exactly do the tories stand up for? not anyone in my world.Of course skivers should be stopped,but they seem very happy to pick on the majority who are genuine.What next a bigger pension if you agree to euthanasia at age 70....

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    The level of ignorance on this subject amazes me, but then, its peoples dumb ignorance that the coalition plays upon.

    "He doesn't look disabled" .. thank you for that medical opinion. A lot of cancer patients don't look disabled either but rely on transport so they can have Chemo daily purely to try and stay alive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    It would seem the ConDems appear to be comfortable with the damage their policies cause those with disabilities. Collateral damage ranging from of undermining the quality of life of those with disabilities to, inflicting potentially irreversible damage to physical and mental health of those affected and even bullying a tragic few into taking their own lives - Shame

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    I think benefits for the wealthy should be cancelled completely. Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson claims Disability Living Allowance despite being wealthy already

    -And the Queen is entitled to a free TV licence and Half a million UK Oap's who live in Spain claim the Winter fuel Allowance.
    Is your objection to Tanni claiming a benefit to which She is clearly entitled because She is rich or not a Tory

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.


    No one cares, they've seen a few articles in the Sun/Mail about the benifits cheats and think they are educated. The coalition want to make cuts, see the disabled as an easy target as they can prey upon the publics lack of knowledge.

    The daily fail mob win again!

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    20 miles walking is still quite far, perhaps I could qualify. Or do you mean 20 minutes? Or 20 metres? Unclear reporting again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    I read somewhere that this government is running this country as if it was a business forgetting there are humans involved. Couldn't agree more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    lets hope you are in the situation of being disabled in the very near future and then reap what you sow, what a truely odious individual you must be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    P Uxbridge

    What a load of codswallop you posted, if the last government were still in power then this country would be a lot better off.
    We would have good growth and would not be impoverished as we are with this completely useless government we now have.
    It is sad that we cannot have an election to get rid of this pathetic bunch

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    I ask just for information... are people who can walk 60m ghettoised and excluded from society under current rules?


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