A new system of disabiliyty benefit has begun to take effect of England, Scotland and Wales. Personal Independence Payments (Pips) are replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) as part of the government`s welfare reforms.
The govertnment claims Pips will target resoucres more effectivley to those who need it most. But charity warns that almost a fifth of claiments – 600,000 people could eventually lose their benefits. Since April, thousands of new claiments in the north iof Englaqnd have already applied for PiPs. Now, new claiments of working age in the rest of Britain will also have to apply for a PiP, rather than DLA. Northern Ireland will join the system later.
From October, PIPs will be extended further, when the government will start to re-assess existing claimants, but only those who circumstances have changed. The vast majority of the 3.2 million people who currently claim DLA will not be re-assessed until 2015 or later. Many disabled people fear having to be put through the new in-person tests to test their eligibility.
Phil Sumner, a former postman who has multiple sclerosis, told the BBC that the prospect of an interview is “quite intimidating”. “It’s like being judged again. Filling out forms is bad enough. Face-to-face, I don’t like anyway,” he said.
Figures from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) suggest that 450,000 will no longer be able to claim the benefit by 2018. But the disability charity Scope said that – including those who would have been new claimants between now to 2018 – some 607,000 people will miss out in total.
The government claims the new system will better target those who need help. Under DLA, most people filled in their own application forms, and did not have to re-apply, even if their health improved. “Seventy-one per cent would have indefinite awards, without regular checks,” the disabilities minister, Esther McVeigh, told the BBC. “So this is about targeting billions of pounds a year at the people who need it most.”
Before PIP launched, the government promised disabled people a simpler application process. The 55-page DLA form was not only long, but also complicated. To start a claim, applicants must ring DWP. This causes problems for those unable to use the phone. However Scope believes the main motive is to spend less. “Disabled people believe this reform is an excuse to save money,” said Richard Hawkes, Scope’s chief executive. “It doesn’t help that the minister is able to predict exactly how many disabled people will receive support before they have even been tested,” he said.
Expenditure on DLA has gone up by 32% in the last 10 years. But the government insists the introduction of PIPs is not about saving money.
Expenditure is still expected to rise from £12.6bn in 2009/10, to £13.8bn in 2015/16. However, with 450,000 fewer people expected to receive the benefit by 2018, the cost to the taxpayer will be much smaller than it otherwise would have been.
Source: BBC NEWS
10th June 2013