Government to cut disability benefit
Half a million people could lose their disability benefit under Government plans.
The planned reforms will see the current disability living allowance replaced with Personal Independence Payment (PIP), a simpler allowance which is designed to be more focused.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said that the number of people claiming disability living allowance has increased by 30 per cent, “rising well ahead of any other gauge you might make about illness, sickness, disability”.
Claimants will have to be medically assessed in order to qualify for the new benefit and it is estimated that this will result in a £2.24 billion saving for the government on benefit payments annually.
A medical assessment will be carried out on all existing disability living allowance claimants by 2016 and all those who are found to be eligible to receive PIP will be required to be re-assessed at regular intervals.
Disability living allowance is intended to cover the additional costs that disable people incur as a result of their condition.
This can be help with mobility, such as paying for wheelchair accessible vehicles, and support with personal care needs.
Disability living allowance costs the government around £13 billion a year, more than the cost of unemployment benefit.
The reforms are designed to reduce exploitation and abuse of the system, by ensuring that only those who need care and help with mobility can claim the new benefit.
A consultation on eligibility criteria for PIP is underway, with an announcement expected in the autumn.
While hundreds of thousands of people are expected to either lose their disability benefit altogether, or face a reduction in benefit, severely disabled people, including those with severe mental illness, may receive a higher amount under the new system, than they do at present.
Labour shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne accused Mr Duncan Smith of approaching reform with “contempt and carelessness”.
While the coalition government is seeking to refocus on reducing the UK’s deficit, Prime Minister David Cameron has lost ground to Labour leader Ed Miliband in opinion polls.
According to a YouGov survey published in the Sunday Times, Ed Miliband now has a higher approval rating than David Cameron for the first time in a year.
The proposed welfare benefit reforms are unlikely to improve the coalition government’s popularity – when Tony Blair tried reduce disability benefits, the plan proved so controversial that he was forced to abandon it.