A request by a Labour MP to the government has revealed the extent to which disabled people have had specific benefits cut. It shows that nearly 200,000 people lost their support in the space of just over four years.
The Labour MP for Chesterfield, Toby Perkins, questioned then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions David Gauke in October and November 2017. He asked how many people who previously received the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) were not awarded its replacement, the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). This was for the period from 8 April 2013 to 31 July 2017.
The government finally released the full details on 15 January, after seemingly holding the information back. It revealed that 189,960 disabled people who previously got the DLA were denied PIP. This is 21% of all disabled people who were reassessed by private outsourcing firms Atos and Capita.
Perkins told HuffPost that:
These figures reveal the extent to which the new regime is impoverishing severely disabled people.
The DWP says…
The DLA was a non-means-tested benefit for disabled people who need support with their care and mobility needs. But the 2010 Coalition government replaced the DLA with PIP to reduce costs by 20%. Ever since, PIP has been dogged by controversy. This included the UN saying the government must “repeal” changes made to PIP in 2017 – an argument the High Court agreed with just before Christmas. So far, though, the government has not been willing to change PIP.
A DWP spokesperson told HuffPost in relation to Perkins’ questions:
We introduced PIP to replace the outdated DLA system. PIP is a better benefit which takes a much wider look at the way an individual’s health condition or disability impacts them on a daily basis. Under PIP, 29% of claimants receive the highest rate of support compared to 15% under DLA.
Decisions are made following careful consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist. Anyone who disagrees with a decision can appeal.
“Twisted and nasty”
Co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) Linda Burnip is unimpressed. She told The Canary:
The purpose of PIP was never to address the needs of disabled people. It was to cruelly slash the help that so many depend upon to be able to take part in society. Maria Miller, AKA ‘Miller the Killer’, announced way back in 2011 that the scrapping of DLA was to effectively remove eligibility from 20% of disabled people. And at the same time she may as well have announced they didn’t really need to wash daily.
Esther McVey/’McVile’ simply accelerated this twisted and nasty process. How can anyone place any credence in a failing assessment process when the two private firms involved in carrying out the assessment between them only employ four qualified doctors? The whole process is a gigantic farce and the fact that 65% of appeals are upheld simply illustrates this.
By denying 21% of claimants benefits they were previously entitled to, the government has essentially redefined disability. Because hypothetically, someone on the DLA in 2012 could have been deemed as needing support with cooking meals and using public transport. But from 2013, they might no longer have got that support. You could say the government seemed to think that such a person was miraculously cured and no longer needed the assistance.
In the world of the Conservative government, this may seem OK. But it must surely seem like the cruellest of cuts to the rest of us.
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