PIP reforms could affect 100 different services, councils warned


newslatestScrapping disability living allowance (DLA) and replacing it with the new personal independence payment (PIP) could affect access to more than 100 local authority services, according to the disabled councillor who leads on equality for the capital’s councils.

London Councils has launched an important examination of the impact of the government’s decision to replace working-age DLA with PIP.

Hundreds of thousands of disabled people currently claiming DLA are set to lose their entitlement completely by the time the government completes a reassessment programme in 2018.

Campaigners have been warning since at least 2011 that cuts to spending through the move from DLA to PIP will only increase costs across health, social care and other local government services.

London Councils said the publication was “likely to suggest” to local authorities that they collect evidence of the knock-on effects of PIP on services used by disabled people – such as social care – so that this information could be fed into any future reviews of the new benefit.

Marie Pye, the former head of public sector delivery at the Disability Rights Commission and now a Labour councillor in Waltham Forest and the lead on equality for London Councils, said the move from DLA to PIP would have a “massive” impact on disabled people in the capital.

Pye said there were more than 100 areas of local authority services that the PIP changes could impact on.

These include dozens of services where DLA or PIP are used as a means of determining eligibility.

She said: “We are doing a piece of work to make sure that local authorities know what these areas are and what the consequences could be.”

Pye and colleagues are now examining which of the services will be most affected by the reforms.

The research is likely to build a picture of the cumulative impact of the move to PIP on working-age disabled Londoners.

Among services likely to be affected are access to wheelchair-accessible housing, the right to a reduced-cost or free dropped kerb, and access to the Freedom Pass, the blue parking badge and the swimming pass.

Pye said: “We will look at the cumulative impact, not of losing the benefit itself, but of all the passported things that you get if you claim DLA.”

She said London Councils had decided to concentrate on the PIP reforms instead of researching the cumulative impact on disabled people of three of the government’s major welfare reforms – universal credit, the “bedroom tax” and the benefit cap – a piece of work it had been set to commission last summer.

She said: “My view is that to real-life disabled Londoners this work on PIP is more real. It is so wide-ranging and I didn’t see anyone else shouting about it.

“It is about council services and we are London councils. We have to look at things we can influence.”

The plan is to publish a briefing for London’s local authorities this summer, focusing on the services most affected by the move from DLA to PIP, and some of the best practice developed by councils across the capital.

27 February 2014