Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Tory Coalition Attack On Disability Living Allowance Has Begun

The ConDem Government have started their attack on the disabled and their Disability Living Allowance.

Confirmed: DLA to be axed and replaced by PIP

The DWP have confirmed that disability living allowance (DLA) is to be abolished and replaced by a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in 2013/14. All existing DLA claimants will be reassessed for PIP once it is introduced.

A brief consultation has begun – but not to decide whether to replace DLA, only to decide the finer details.

From the scant information available, we look at what’s staying the same, what’s changing, why your ESA medical may also be your PIP medical and who is most likely to lose out with the introduction of PIP – designed to reduce spending on DLA by at least one fifth.

Whether you have a PIP or an ESA medical, you can be sure that it will be Atos who carry it out. The coalition have now extended the Atos contract by a further three years, giving the multinational a virtually unbreakable stranglehold on benefits medicals.

And that may not be the end of your dealings with Atos. They are one of the companies shortlisted by the DWP to run compulsory schemes to get sick and disabled claimants back into work once they have been placed in the work-related activity group.

The voluntary sector did spectacularly badly in the same bidding war, with Shaw Trust being shortlisted in just one of the eleven regions. A consortium of nine charities, including Mind and Mencap, however, are desperately trying to become subcontractors to the big boys like A4E, Atos and security firm G4S. The charities are flaunting their combined £688 million turnover and cash surplus of £16 million in the hope of turning private sector heads and getting a few scraps of the billions being invested in getting claimants into work.

Not, we’re sure, that the charities see it that way or will thank us for publicising their consortium. Citizens Advice certainly weren’t happy with our unenthusiastic write-up of their ESA campaign – so much so that they asked for a right to reply, which we were happy to give them. Pop into the blog and see if you agree with what they say.

In other news, we have definite confirmation that the time limiting of contribution based ESA will be retrospective when it is introduced in 2012.

There’s nothing definite about the date when PCA exempt claimants will be transferred to ESA, however. A Benefits and Work member has used the Freedom of Information Act to uncover the fudge that the DWP are employing to deal with the issue of claimants with no renewal date.

Not that any other dates relating to the migration of IB claimants to ESA can be trusted, it seems. It has now emerged that there will be a delay of months after the first medicals before any IB claimant actually gets a decision about their ESA entitlement – or lack of it – due to DWP software not being ready in time.

Also delayed - for existing claimants at any rate - are the cuts to local housing allowance which were due to be introduced in April and October but which will now go ahead in January 2012.

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