A new consultation on disability living allowance (DLA) reform has added fuel to concerns that the government is ignoring the likely impact of the changes on disabled people’s lives, say campaigners.
Disability Rights UK (DR UK) spoke out after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) quietly published the latest consultation document on its plans to replace working-age DLA with a new personal independence payment (PIP).
The document lays out plans for some of the detailed rules on PIP.
Among the proposals is a key change to the rules governing payment of DLA to people on the Motability car scheme who are admitted to hospital.
Currently, DLA payments stop after a disabled person has spent 28 days as an in-patient, but claimants who use their DLA mobility component to pay for a Motability vehicle can continue to receive those payments until the end of their lease.
But these payments are also now set to stop after 28 days, meaning PIP claimants who spend more than a month in hospital are likely to lose their Motability vehicles.
It is not yet clear exactly when this change will be brought in, as the document says only that the change will be rolled out “from 2013 alongside the implementation of PIP”.
Neil Coyle, director of policy and campaigns for DR UK, said the government appeared to have ignored the potential costs of the suggested new rule.
It could mean disabled people not being able to drive home from hospital or finding it impossible to travel to work, while the government could face extra hospital costs from delayed discharges.
The consultation document also says that PIP will often be awarded for short fixed-term periods of just one or two years, although longer term awards of five or 10 years “may be more appropriate” in other cases.
Coyle said he expected fewer people to qualify for the new PIP than even the government had predicted, leading to more “wasteful and stressful” assessments and appeals, and a huge backlog in the PIP system.
He warned that the move to PIP could see a “never-ending” revolving door for many disabled people from PIP assessment to appeal to another assessment, as has happened with the much-criticised employment and support allowance, the new out-of-work disability benefit.
He said he feared many disabled people would simply “feel it is not worth the effort” to claim PIP.
The new document says that the levels at which PIP will be paid will not be announced until the chancellor makes his autumn statement later this year.
DWP will start to phase in PIP for new claimants from April 2013, and begin to reassess existing DLA claimants from Oct 2013.
29 March 2012