POLITICS
15/01/2018 16:35 GMT | Updated 16/01/2018 16:58 GMT

More Than 180,000 People Have Lost Disability Payments Under Government Reforms

Campaigners say people are being forced into poverty.

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Disability cuts campaigners outside Parliament

More than 180,000 people have lost out on disability payments under government reassessments, it has emerged.

The Department for Work and Pensions began phasing out Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in favour of the controversial Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in April 2013.

Since then, medical reassessments of claimants undertaken by private contractors Atos and Capita have led to 125,000 and 64,000 claims being disallowed respectively. 

In total, 19% of claims assessed by Atos were rejected by the DWP, while for Capita it was 24%.

Labour MP Toby Perkins, who uncovered the figures by submitting a written question to ministers, told HuffPost UK: “These figures reveal the extent to which the new regime is impoverishing severely disabled people.

“Already over 20% of DLA recipients have lost out on payments they did receive.

“It is also chilling to see that the disallowance rate of Capita is actually higher than those assessed by infamous Atos assessors.”

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Labour MP Toby Perkins

Perkins said he plans to raise the issue in the Commons after several people in his Chesterfield constituency came forward to ask for help.

“We are talking about a very substantial number of people whose claims have been disallowed, and I think many people even expected the figures to be higher,” he added.

“I’ve had a lot of people coming to me with worries about the process.”

James Taylor, head of policy at disability charity Scope, said the figures were “alarming”.

He added: “Life costs more if you are disabled. These extra costs haven’t disappeared just because there is a different assessment process.

“Our helpline receives calls from disabled people daily who have lost their independence because of reassessments.

“Without an urgent overhaul of the assessment process, the system will continue to work against disabled people, instead of for them.”

Last year, a Freedom of Information request by the MS Society revealed nearly one in three people with multiple sclerosis - a seriously debilitating long-term condition - were having their claims for PIP turned down.

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DWP secretary Esther McVey

The charity’s chief executive, Michelle Mitchell, said the government’s decisions were “insulting” to sufferers.

“Having MS is hard enough; it shouldn’t be made harder by a welfare system that doesn’t make sense,” she added.

PIP was introduced during DWP secretary Esther McVey’s first stint at the department under former PM David Cameron.

At the time the minister, who lost her Wirral West seat in the 2015 election but returned to Parliament as MP for Tatton last year, said the payment reforms were introduced to “better reflect today’s understanding of disability”.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We introduced PIP to replace the outdated DLA system. PIP is a better benefit which takes a much wider look at the way an individual’s health condition or disability impacts them on a daily basis. Under PIP, 29% of claimants receive the highest rate of support compared to 15% under DLA.

“Decisions are made following careful consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist. Anyone who disagrees with a decision can appeal.”