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 178.

    " badge, parked in disabled bay, photo on blue badge , doh!"

    None of which says it's a Motability car, I have a blue badge as I walk with crutches due to a significant mobility impairment, but I don't get DLA Higher Mobility and therefore aren't eligible to use that to pay for a Motability vehicle (yes, everyone pays for their Motability vehicles).

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    JUSTNOW- ever tried to fit a wheelchair into a small car, and if using a wheelchair then you will also realise that getting in and out of a low seat is impossible. Thus we use the larger cars- I get smallest car that does the job- and buy the way we pay extra (above dvla) for the larger car. I'd swap your legs for my car anyday!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    People who making those changes-they will not feel or understand anything about disability because they do not have any disability to feel, they do not have any closed relative who they love have a disability
    To understand a life with disability-they need to feel it before they try to understand its.People with Autism-even they don’t understand themselves how could other feel to understand them

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    There are to many abusing the system which is impacting on the genuine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    15% of benefit claimants are disabled
    8% are unemployed
    47% are WFTC
    the rest are pensioners.

    take money off the unemployed: check
    take money off the WFTC : check

    Disability people still get their full rise above inflation as do pensioners. I dont see what the problem is to be honest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    147 Salwick99

    What a pathetic comment. Do you expect disabled people to crawl on all fours just to prove their disability? I know disabled people who go swimming because its the only thing that relieves their pain. I've got a disabled badge ... because I take my 91 year old mother out at weekends. Maybe it's people like me you see getting out of cars. Passengers can be disabled as well you know.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    The huge rise in those claiming DLA has to be investigated and those who are faking it, rooted out.
    This will happen, it has to, the country is still having massive problems bringing the public finances under control
    The last incompetent 'government ' has left our country in a very bad place which has to be addressed, like it or not
    The 'nasty' Tories have to sort out the mess left by the children

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    It sickens me how the disabled are somehow a sacred cow exhalted above every other vulnerable or victimised person in society. It makes me even sicker when the debate is so narrow because the furthest people are willing to consider the problem is how much fiat currency we can throw at the people.

    If you want a grown up debate, then I guess the UK isn't the place to hold it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    anglerfish - no, I havent reported the guy who masquerades as disabled, I hope that the assesments will find him out and put him to work as they are supposed to do. I feel sick knowing my taxes are wasted this way and that genuine disabled get a bad name because of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    "Genuine claimants need not worry by the scaremongering"

    You don't know ATOS's tick box 'yes/no' assessent

    Genuine claimants of Employment Support Allowance - thousands (wrongly) declared fit for work and appealed, a large proportion of whom were judged unable to work by an independent tribunal costing £50m.

    This is cost cutting pure & simple but will probably backfire in appeals costs

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    @83 How is saying 20m unclear reporting? The SI unit of measurement is the metre, or m for short. A minute is min, and mile when just referring to the distance is mi.

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    Coalition - attack anyone who isn't on 100 k a year

    I'm still waiting for when we can comment on the MP's 32% pay rise

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    justavoter - yes it may seem strange that they choose larger cars, it did to me before I became disabled 2 years ago- I have to pay extra for a larger higher up car, you do not get the larger ones free. However, I now realise 2 things- One I can't fit my wheelchair in a small car and secondly, I cannot manage to get in and out of a lower down seat. Also I swap you my car for your legs anyday.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    148. NW1837 badge, parked in disabled bay, photo on blue badge , doh!
    My father in laws blue badge doesn't have a photo. It has my reg number, my wife's and my sister-in-laws (as all three cars are used occasionally). You might see me 'jumping into the drivers seat' but the old guy in the back isn't jumping anywhere. (and he keeps his badge BTW... I don't use it on my own)

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    The disabled like the idea of equality in all things except benefits. It is time to change this culture of exceptionalism and replace it with fairness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    #145 So, why are you colluding in this fraud by not reporting him to the relevant authorities? It's all very well complaining about fraudsters (which is what this person may well be if what you say is true), but it is in your hands to do something about it by reporting him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    DC did for his son and found it every hard to get the money when he was in Opposition and pledged to make it easyer for people if elected to get it

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    Disability can happen to anyone thru illness and accident. Most of us have paid NI and tax into the provision system and it has been raided and robbed by the Coalition. YOUR money that YOU paid for in case you needed support..Civilised society looks after its vulnerable

    For those that are too disabled and sick to have ever paid into the system, well their parents did. We did for them. Civilised

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    Why cana commercial business (ATOS) make decisions and judgements regarding health and disability? whilst I am sure many of their staff may well be medically trained to GP level or similar, they are NOT specialists in every area of medicine and illness.
    Why are Patients GP, consultants and surgeons records not acceptable proof.
    20m does NOT get someone from car to shop or ability to actually shop!

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    According to the new assessments I can carry out 10 of the 12 and will score zero!
    If I face a cut I will no longer be able to afford to run a vehicle or pay for the therapies and counselling I need to stay part of the 'Big Society'.
    MND doesn't care how much I earn.
    There are psychological effects of being 'less-able' too. These cuts could mean I end up needing full time NHS care, more expense!


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