Personal Independence Payments (PIP) is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in areas from today – but campaign groups say the resultant cuts to disability benefits is unfair.
It is thought that around 600,000 people will lose their benefit payments when it is changed to PIP and a total of £2.2 million will be cut.
The process of changing to PIP is beginning today. It is introducing tighter controls on who receives benefits, and more regular checks on long term illnesses.
The change to PIP is starting with places in the north of England being the first to be moved over, and will begin nationally in June.
Last year, the total number of people claiming DLA was 3.2 million, and studies by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) estimate that changes to the qualifying criteria alone could cut around £2.2 billion from the budget, largely due to there being around 600,000 fewer claimants by 2018.
Campaigners also say disabled people could lose between £20.55 and £131.50 with PIP, but ministers argue the current method is outdated and does not reflect medical opinion.
Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that more than 70% of claimants get DLA for life, but the government believe the circumstances of some individuals can improve over time, so require more regular assessment.
Iain Duncan Smith said:
70% of people on it have lifetime awards which means no one sees you ever again. It doesn’t matter if you get better or your condition worsens – it’s quite ridiculous.
Taxpayers pay out £50bn in sickness and disability benefits – we’re ahead of pretty much every other major country in the G20.
Richard Hawkes, chief executive of disability charity Scope said:
It is cutting a financial life-line for disabled people, which helps them meet the extra costs of day-to-day living when you have a disability. The reform is fundamentally flawed.
It doesn’t help that ministers are able to predict exactly how many disabled people will receive support before they have even been tested.
This raises alarming questions that the Government is working to arbitrary targets.
Esther McVey, minister for disabled people, said:
Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit introduced over twenty years ago and needs reform to better reflect today’s understanding of disability.
At the moment the vast majority of claimants get the benefit for life without any systematic re-assessments and around 50 per cent of decisions are made on the basis of the claim form alone – without any additional corroborating medical evidence.
The Personal Independence Payment will include a new face-to-face assessment and regular reviews – something missing in the current system.
This will ensure the billions we spend give more targeted support to those who need it most.”