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Minister responds to disability benefit reform concerns

Disability Living Allowance will start to be replaced for new claimants in the north of England from today by the Personal Independence Payment.

The government says the changes will give more targeted support to those who need it but critics say thousands of disabled people will lose out because of a new assessment process.

The chief executive of Scope, Richard Hawkes, said he agreed with the idea of reform and people being assessed but he said this scheme was "deeply flawed".

Speaking on the Today programme he told presenter Evan Davis that the "the assessment itself has been designed to achieve a budget target of the reductions that the government talks about in the comprehensive spending review."

"So they said there was going to be a 20% reduction, they've then developed an assessment that will deliver that and they've then assessed how many people will lose it accordingly," he added.

The Disability Minister, Esther McVey, defended the changes and said it would better reflect differences in disability: "DLA was set up in 1992, very much looking at physical disabilities. This benefit will look at cognitive, sensory, learning, fluctuating conditions."

"Under DLA 50% of people who made a claim didn't have additional corroborating medical evidence," she added.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday 8 April 2013.

  • 08 Apr 2013
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