Disabled Benefit Changes ‘Offer More Questions Than Answers’

Expert Calls On Government To Tackle Concerns Over Introduction Of PIPs


Urgent action is needed to tackle widespread concerns raised about the replacement of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with Personal Independence Payments (PIPs), according to an expert who specialises in providing advice to families affected by serious injury.

Online campaign group We Are Spartacus has published a new report which has criticised the changes, specifically proposals related to Motability services which may mean many people will lose vital transport support from the start of April.

According to the body, changing the test to qualify for enhanced mobility rate from being able to walk 50 metres to just 20 metres will impact on the independence of thousands of disabled people and leave many isolated. It also stated that just one of 173 consultation responses related to the introduction of PIP suggested any change to the qualification criteria should be considered.

Ruth Moore, a Client Liaison Manager at Irwin Mitchell, works everyday with children and adults who have suffered serious injury and provides practical advice to them and their families as they set off on the path to recovery and rehabilitation.

She outlined: “In general, the upcoming changes to welfare benefits raise so many concerns. At present, there appears to be more questions than answers surrounding what it all means. There needs to be more clarity in respect of the criteria to qualify for each of the benefits proposed.

“Although the likes of Disability Rights UK and charities like Turn 2 Us have produced great factsheets on the topic, there is general lack of information and the specifics of the benefit seem to change regularly.

“The potential loss of benefits for disabled children under the age of 16 years is also worrying. Those who are already in receipt of DLA will continue to receive it until they are 16 years old and will then be migrated to PIPs, but information about the eligibility for new claimants under the age of 16 or over the age of 65 is difficult to find. It would appear that DLA and Attendance Allowance (AA) will remain as standalone benefits for claimants in these age groups.”

Ruth stated that changes to PIPs could potential mean fewer people qualified for the Motability scheme and this is one of several major concerns.

She explained: “Some of the children Irwin Mitchell represent are very severely injured and without a Motability vehicle are unable to travel independently to hospital, school or to any social activities away from the family home. In addition, the loss of low rate care allowance will have a big impact, especially on those clients that have mental health issues.”

Ruth added: “As we move out of the consultation period and into the trial period, it is likely more advantages and detriments will emerge. At present though it is concerning that little is known about how people will access information on the changes and how advocacy agencies will cope with the demand for assistance with benefits and, subsequently, debt management.

“We would urge the Government to work as quickly as it can to ensure that everyone affected by these changes is given the information they need to come to terms with how these changes will impact on them.”