pip`sThousands of disabled people could lose some benefits because of last-minute changes to the new system of Personal Independence Payments, campaigners say.

The group, We Are Spartacus, says tougher rules to assess how far people can walk mean many claimants will lose help with transport from April. Under the new rules, claimants qualify if they cannot move 20m – rather than the previous distance of 50m. Ministers say the benefit will be targeted at those who need it most.

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. 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.”

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.”

Source: BBC NEWS

Link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21006365

14th January 2013

 

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