From DLA to PiP – a consultation begins


Yesterday, the government published it’s consultation document regarding proposed changes to Disability Living Allowance (to be renamed Personal Independence Payment.. ).

At Arbitrary Constant there is a fantastic rundown of the details of the document which highlights some of the major points of concern and change from the current system.

So there is going to be a ‘rebranding’. Fair enough – of course a new and shiny ‘welfare system’ needs new names. I didn’t think DLA was particularly badly served and PiP sounds disarmingly chipper but no matter, in effect names are irrelevant.

The document emphasises the need to move to a system for ‘today rather than the 1990s’ again, all rather dull and obvious rhetoric.

The one blindingly obvious statement is that less people will meet the criteria for the new ‘payment’ than currently do. Marry this to the tightening upwards of local authority eligibility criteria for services and the stricter limits for Employment and Support Allowance which is means-tested and we can see that there will be a group of people who will slip away from ‘benefits and services’ completely. I fear that the barrier will be drawn reasonably high and that this has the potential to cause great hardship for some people.

There is no mention of Attendance Allowance at all – Attendance Allowance is the equivalent (but lower) benefit paid to over 65s. There is a note that a consideration will be made as to whether over 65s will be brought into the ‘new’ benefit.

I don’t want to pre-judge but I can’t see there is any possibility of attendance allowance carrying on in anything resembling it’s current form with these changes. I expect a convergence with PiP as differentiation between groups and entitlements on the basis of age is running close to the line as far as Equality legislation is concerned or an abolition of AA entirely.

I wonder at the ‘healthcare professional’ who will be conducting the assessments. This is currently the case with ESA and in some assessments of DLA as far as I understand (let me know if I’m wrong on this!)  and I feel very uncomfortable that the medical professionals who are involved with an individual –  that their own GP or consultant, cannot be trusted to provide relevant information rather than relying on a private company. I took a look at some of the job vacancy adverts for these ‘Disability Analysts’. Unsurprisingly ATOS are advertising for a fair few RGNS (registered general nurses). I was, however surprised that there was no adverts for RMNs (Registered mental nurses). Does that mean that all the ‘health professionals’ primarily have their experience in physical rather than mental health services? I’m willing to accept that maybe I’m putting 2 and 2 together and making 5 but one area I do worry about intensely is the way that decisions will be made for those who have fluctuating disabilities and primarily mental health difficulties. Firstly, the process itself seems to be an additional barrier to claim with many potentially saying ‘I can’t be bothered to make the application because I’ll be turned down’ or ‘I don’t want to be classed as a scrounger or doubted’ and thus a universal, non-means tested benefit eludes a certain group of people who have been terrified out of claiming that which is rightfully theirs.

My impression remains that the government fully knows that they are doing by stigmatising benefit claimants. They are scaring people who are fully entitled out of claiming what they rightfully could receive. That’s a very mean-spirited way of reducing cost.

There is a lot more in the document that I could and will, no doubt, consider over the next few days. I heartily recommend Arbitrary Constant for a much more thorough rundown of the main points.

I intend drafting a response to the consultation and I suggest as many people who are interested do. I am sceptical about the difference that these consultations actually make but it never hurts to try and help get our voices heard.

10 thoughts on “From DLA to PiP – a consultation begins

  1. You haven’t got it wrong re RGN & RMN roles. As an RMN I can say that we have some understanding of physical disorders and interventions but not so much as RGNs. The reverse is also true.

    It seems to me that to employ RGNs and not RMNs is another (very consistent) aspect of the ConDem coalition’s intention to stigmatise people with problems. This is a clear way of conveying the message that mentally disordered claimants are insignificant and so there’s no needcto employ people skilled on their assessment.

    Once again the most vulnerable are being kicked by this right wing coalition.

  2. The spending on this private company seems to be without limits:-

    ATOS ORIGIN MEDICAL SERVICES

    £3,489,137.81

    That’s last years figure according to the raft of government figures recently released [Guardian].

    It will be interesting to see how this figure changes over the next few years, I predict that the department will spend even more on Atos than previously.

    The changes to DLA have been rumoured for a while but it seems they already started “consulting” various charities and individuals prior to the release of this document.

    As with ESA they will say “we consulted disabled people and their organisations” and the forthcoming Green and White papers will receive broad support from all parties saying what a “wonderful opportunity for the disabled”. Then try and get any MP to stand up and disapprove, no chance!

    The single most obvious thing that I see wrong with PIP is that it no longer views people with terrible ill health as sick AND disabled, drawing on the medical model of disability as DLA did (which in my opinion was a fairer framework in which to assess those with chronic conditions like COPD or MS for instance) it chooses to use the “Social” model for disability. This idea says that the barriers to disabled people are all caused by society and not the medical condition or disability. But can you spot the problem, or elephant in the room? Yes, exactly, where to people with things like treatable Cancer or MS or COPD or Neurological disorders not to mention a raft of mental health illnesses fit in? Yes some changes in attitude would help these groups but this legislation does not include any “sticks” for those employers or general public. Rather it just berates the sick and disabled to “just get on with it” when they fail to get this new benefit. The same way ESA leaves people who fail the criteria to their own devices and basically abandons them.

    PIP is just another Condem attack on the poor, and like the character in Dicken’s Great Expectations, we will all learn that we have been deceived!

  3. While it is likely that the intention is to cut spending at the expense of some vulnerable people we must not rule out the need for some reform.
    For example, at present a wheelchair user can get a free car on motability but have to pay for the adaptations to be installed (and removed at the end of the lease). Surely the extra costs related to the disability are the adaptations so it is these which should be paid for – not the car. While the public transport system still has some way to go I don’t think being disabled should be a ticket to a tax payer funded vehicle. Indeed there are ambulant disabled and mentally disordered persons who have greater need for mobility benefit who are paid at a low rate while being in a wheelchair automatically qualifies for the higher rate or a free car – even if you have the financial resources to buy your own. This is not fair.

  4. I’m terrified about losing my DLA. I’m already losing my contributory incapacity benefit and experiencing cuts to the subsidy for my transport to hospital. If my severe incurable illness doesn’t qualify as a suitable ‘social model’ disability under this new scheme then it sounds like I’ll soon be getting absolutely no support at all (what remains of my subsidised hospital transport is conditional on my receipt of higher rate mobility DLA).

    What is most painful to me is the government’s constant pretence that they make these changes because they want to help people. Press releases mention things like the ‘choice’ to use personalised funding to attend a football match or many such similar frivolities, whereas back in the real world they cut our transport to necessary medical care and remove the funds we need to access ordinary things like basic hygiene!

    No money will be saved in the end as the NHS will be left to pick up the bill when the cuts cause people to deteriorate and require expensive treatment.

  5. there hasnt been mutch on the tv about this in the uk as of yet but it will be intresting to see the developments i think the new pip you will have to go for a medical like esa im not to sure i have bpd so ill be intrested to see the developments

  6. its not they are bringing this new benefit out it is more about saving money why dont they pick on the mps them selves and they all take a 10% paycut then take the top councill cheefs on £150,000 nock 10% of there pay thats the way to save money for the econermy not picking on people with disabilitys

  7. I am dreading the ‘independent’ medical assessment of people for disability benefits. I have sat through these assessments supporting my clients in which Doctors have deliberately misrepresented what hey have said to deny them benefit. They have clearly been given a quota of people to turn down and I could not see how these people could a) continue to practice as Doctors given their unethical behaviour & b) sleep at night.

    I think we need to all challenge the language of choice and fairness when it is clear that the opposite is the real agenda.

  8. @mark best

    >For example, at present a wheelchair user can get a free car on motability

    HAHAHAH. No.

    I’m a full-time chair user outdoors (house isn’t accessible) and I’m on LRC/LRM

  9. Pingback: This Week in Mentalists – Two Weeks to Christmas Edition « Mental Nurse

  10. I’m a CAB specialist benefits worker, and I’ve watched ESA be introduced and… here we go again with PIP! The government’s message is loud and clear: you poor and disabled people (especially you with mental health problems) caused this financial crisis, so you have to pay for it. Harsher rules for the already quite tough ESA; DLA (already being withheld from far more people than 2 years ago) to be replaced with something harsher, and Atos Healthcare to do even more sham medicals to turn people down for the harder-to-get benefits. My advice is to keep writing Social Policy reports or whatever the equivalent in your profession is, and write letters of complaint to Atos about their abysmal standards.

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