DLA: Pressure On Government To Halt Changes To Welfare Reform

17/01/2012 10:10

A coalition of charities have urged the government to reconsider changes to disability living allowance (DLA), saying that proposed reforms could force hundreds of thousands of disabled people into poverty as peers prepare to debate the issue in the Lords again on Tuesday afternoon.

The government plan to reduce the costs of DLA by 20% and replace it with a new benefit for the ill, the personal independence payment.

On Tuesday morning minister for disabled people Maria Miller defended the government saying: “We have to make sure the money that is there is getting through to the people who need it most. At the moment with DLA we know that isn’t the case.”

But she was challenged by crossbench peer and the president of Disability Alliance Lord Low who told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Disabled people don’t have confidence that the government is yet ready to deliver an assessment system which will achieve an outcome which is fair to them, and takes proper account of disabled people’s needs.”

Welfare reform, which the government suffered three unexpected defeats on last week in the Lords, is a contentious issue for the government.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "DLA is an outdated benefit and we now have a situation where there are £630 million of overpayments and 71% of people get the benefit for life without systematic checks to see if their condition has changed.

"We are introducing the Personal Independence Payment with a new face-to-face assessment and regular reviews - something missing under the current system.

"Under PIP, support will be focused on those who need it most, with a greater proportion getting the higher rates compared to DLA."

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