Controversial disability payment changes introduced

Disabled sign

Controversial changes to the way disability payments are made were introduced in some regions of the country on Monday, ahead of a national roll out.

Personal Independence Payments (PIP) will replace the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for new claimants in Merseyside, Cumbria, Cheshire and the North East, amid claims from charity Scope the "flawed" reforms could see more than 600,000 disabled people lose their allowance.

New claimants signing up to PIP will be "based on an assessment of individual need", according to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The new assessments will focus on an individual's ability to carry out a range of key activities necessary to everyday life, and will include face-to-face meetings with assessors and regular reviews.

The government says the current system is too complex and has not been reformed since its introduction in 1992. PIP will be rolled out across the UK for new claimants from June, and for existing claimants from 2015.

Regular assessment

The motivation for the reforms comes from DWP figures that show more than 70% of claimants get DLA for life, and a belief that changes in individual circumstances mean there should be more regular assessment.

But Richard Hawkes, chief executive of Scope, said: "DLA needs reforming and could be better targeted to meet the extra cost people face. But disabled people are frightened by the government's plans. They believe it's just an excuse to cut their support.

"For months now we have been saying the government's assessment for PIP is deeply flawed. It doesn't take into account all the barriers disabled people face in daily life."

Esther McVey, minister for disabled people, said: "Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit introduced over 20 years ago and needs reform to better reflect today's understanding of disability.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 reassessments and around 50% of decisions are made on the basis of the claim form alone - without any additional corroborating medical evidence.

"The PIP 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."

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i am a dla user and dont care about having a new system but it should include every one not just 16 to 65 year olds many over 65s dont have cars but they are given to family members whom they hardly see

I know at least seven or eight 'older' people who have cars that their families use because they cant afford or dont want to buy their own. It should be the same rules for everyone regardless of age.  There will be many genuine people that lose out and many who know how to get around the system that keep getting their benefits.  More thought should be given to the whole system.

Because disability payments may need to be reformed it doesn't follow that any changes to it are the necessary reforms. The big issue for me is that this is just another example of the 'sledgehammer' approach to crack what is, in fact, quite a tiny nut. In the hope that the new regulations will stop a very few people who abuse the DLA system, these target and affect everyone. And they do so, without necessarily catching the people who they are meant to catch, but - hey ho! - the more complicated and difficult it becomes to apply for the benefit the fewer will apply.
I have to, also, say that the overwhelming majority of people who have been assessed as needing DLA will not, if we use a fair system, be adjudged as not needing it a few years down the line. I think it would be fairer on them, especially given their probable levels of disability would be high, to seek for a report from a doctor who knows them and their case. Few, I feel, would argue with a random testing to ensure that proper standard are met. A more comprehensive assessment could be undertaken with the few remaining claimants who situation might have changed.