The government will no longer force disabled pensioners to undergo benefit assessments, the work and pensions secretary has announced.
The Department for Work and Pensions says the decision will affect around 270,000 people who receive personal independence payments (PIPs) and who have reached state pension age.
These people will no longer have their entitlement regularly reviewed. Instead there will be a “light touch” review every 10 years.
Amber Rudd MP, the current work and pensions secretary said in her speech delivered at the charity Scope: “The benefits system should be the ally of disabled people. It should protect them and ensure that the assistance the government provides arrives in the right place to those who need it most.”
“People with disabilities and health conditions have enough challenges in life, dealing with my department should not be one of them.
“So my ambition is to significantly improve how DWP supports disabled people and those with health conditions."
Commenting ahead of the speech, Mark Hodgkinson, chief executive at disability equality charity Scope, said: “We are pleased that the government recognises that welfare assessments aren’t working for disabled people.
"We welcome today’s announcements on PIP but a more radical overhaul of the PIP and ESA tests is needed and we would urge the secretary of state to commit to this further reform.
“It’s particularly important to improve our benefits system because life costs more if you are disabled. From heating to equipment costs, Scope research shows that disabled people face extra costs adding up to on average £583 per month.
“Disabled people also want to see action taken to scrap counterproductive benefit sanctions. They make it harder for disabled people to get into work.”
The government says it intends to streamline assessment services by combining PIP, Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit into one integrated service from 2021.
It claims the integrated service will simplify the process for millions of people claiming health-related benefits, reducing the need to submit information multiple times and the number of face-to-face assessments.