Call to halt new benefit regime for disabled Scots

Disabled

Transferring benefits to a new system will cause distress and hardship to disabled Scots

20th January 2015 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Leading charities say moving disabled people onto a new benefit system is a waste of time and will cause uncertainty and confusion.

Citizens Advice Scotland and Inclusion Scotland want the UK government to halt the introduction of Personal Independence Payments (PIP) which replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

The Smith Commission proposed control of this benefit be devolved – which means Scottish claimants would be switched to the new system now, only to be moved again in two years' time.

CAS chief executive Margaret Lynch said: "As we know that the Scottish government will be developing and introducing its own PIP equivalent, we don't want to see disabled claimants having to go through changes in their payments twice in a short period of time.

"I think this will be of major detriment to claimants and is unnecessary and possibly very distressing.

"In addition it seems a waste of resources to pay for the assessments of tens of thousands of disabled people to transfer them on to a system that they will not be staying on."

The Scottish Parliament could have to stand helplessly by whilst tens of thousands of disabled people lose benefits worth thousands of pounds a year - Bill Scott, Inclusion Scotland

Lynch has written to Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael and Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith urging them to halt the introduction of PIP in Scotland.

Bill Scott, policy director at Inclusion Scotland, said: “We too would like to see a moratorium on the transfer of DLA claimants to PIP via re-assessment. We called for this before Christmas in out briefing to MSPs on the Smith Commission proposals and again last week in our written evidence to the Devolution of Further Powers Committee.

“However we’d go further than CAS in condemning the continued migration of claimants – it is certainly distressing and a waste of time but worse than that many will lose their current entitlement. 

“Using the DWP’s own projections there will be tens of thousands of losers – 66,000 people who already have, or would have been awarded, DLA will not be entitled to any PIP whatsoever – including around 47,000 who will lose their higher rate Mobility Component. That is the element of the award where there will be a very high proportion of losers.

“So the problem is that by 2017 or 2018 when the new Scottish system the vast majority of DLA claimants will have already been re-assessed using the much more stringent PIP assessment criteria.

“That is why the transfer of existing DLA claimants to PIP needs to be halted. Otherwise the Scottish Parliament will have to stand helplessly by whilst tens of thousands of disabled people lose benefits worth thousands of pounds a year to each individual household.”

However, a DWP spokesman said: "Under the Personal Independence Payment, claimants receive a face-to-face assessment and regular reviews to ensure support is directed according to need.

"Latest figures show just that, with over 22% of people getting the highest level of support under PIP, compared to 16% under the outgoing DLA system.

"To halt this progress now would be to disadvantage disabled people across Scotland."

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