21.01.15 As there still seems to be quite a lot of uncertainty around the disability benefits, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and its replacement, Personal Independence Payment (PIP), this seems like a good moment to look at the subject of the change from DLA to PIP.
The government claim for PIP has been that it would save money – £1.2 billion per annum – while also targeting support to those in most need. The reality, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, is that the benefit is costing an extra £1.6 billion a year, as delays and mismanagement take their toll.
Currently, you cannot make a new claim for DLA (except for children under 16). People already receiving DLA are gradually being reassessed and moved over to PIP. Once the roll-out of Personal Independence Payment is complete, the Government’s own figures suggest that 428,000 people currently getting the higher rate mobility component of DLA will no longer get it – which means, among other things, over 100,000 people are likely to lose their adapted Motability car.
Altogether, about a million people will lose some or all their allowance: Government figures state that 55% of current DLA claimants will have no award or a reduced award. This means 450,000 disabled people will have no disability benefit entitlement at all and 510,000 disabled people will have a reduced award. This is before counting those new claimants who would have been eligible for DLA, but will not receive PIP under the new rules.
A concrete example of how people are losing out. To get PIP at all, you must score between 8 and 11 points in both the daily living and mobility sections, and to get the Enhanced rate it is 12 points. Where DLA was awarded at three rates for daily care, and two for mobility, under PIP there are just two rates for both daily care and mobility needs; standard and enhanced. Someone who would have received the lowest rate of DLA doesn’t qualify for any support under PIP, and in addition, because they have made the assessments more stringent (for example, reducing the distance for which claimants are considered to be “virtually unable to walk” from 50m to 20m), someone who would have qualified for higher rate mobility of DLA may well no longer be considered sufficiently disabled to receive the enhanced mobility component of PIP – losing nearly £140 per month.
More numbers associated with the transition from DLA to PIP are around delays. It is now expected to take until October 2017 for PIP to replace DLA for all adult claimants, and one reason this date keeps being put back is because of the very long waits that people face before they get an assessment. Last autumn, figures from the DWP showed that of the 529,400 PIP applications registered up to July 2014, just over 206,000 had been dealt with – either awarded, declined or withdrawn. Mark Harper, Minister for disabled people, accepted that people were waiting for too long for an assessment, and said that by the end of the year, no one would wait more than 16 weeks.
Four months may still be considered a long period to deal with the financial hardship and worry of not knowing whether or not you will receive any disability benefit.
North of the border, Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is warning that, because these benefits have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament, who will be developing their own version of PIP, disabled people are likely to face to lots of assessment in a short period of time, as they are transferred from DLA to PIP, and then to the Scottish alternative. Apart from the distress for the individuals concerned, it seems a waste of resources to pay for the assessments of tens of thousands of disabled people to transfer them onto a system that they will not be staying on.
CAS Chief Executive Margaret Lynch said: “CAS has already detailed the massive delays that new claimants are seeing in getting a PIP assessment and then having a decision made. Whilst these delays continue, sick and disabled clients are facing severe hardship, unable to meet the costs of living, and getting into debt. The DWP should concentrate on getting the process right for these new claimants and let current DLA claimants stay on their current award until such times as new Scottish system is in place.”
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