Disabled Fifers losing out on benefits under new PIP system

Pic: John Devlin
Pic: John Devlin

One fifth of disability claimants in Fife lose their benefits when they are assessed under the new system.

Since 2013, more than 8000 people in the Kingdom have  moved from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP). 

But figures from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) show that 1897 (23%)  were told they were no longer entitled to any money.

PIP is a tax-free, monthly payment to help disabled people with the cost of living and transport.

Claimants can get a total of £141.10 per week – £83.10 for living costs and £58 for transport, which they are only entitled to if they have mobility issues or need help getting around.

In Fife, the most common reason for people losing their disability benefits was failing the face-to-face assessment.

Assessors felt that 1252 claimants were actually fit to work after  assessment, while 242 people were refused for failing to show up, and a further 397 people for not sending the correct form in on time.

The charity, Scope, said that many disabled people are “losing out on vital support” under the new system, which it says is beset with problems.

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It said that it regularly speaks with disabled people who are put off by the complexity and stress of applying for PIP.

A spokesman said: “It is deeply worrying that so many disabled people are losing out on vital support when being reassessed for PIP.

“The entire system needs to be much more focused on the needs of the individual.

“With record levels of appeals against decisions successful, the whole decision making process is beset with problems.”

Les Robertson, Head of Revenue and Commercial Services in Fife Council said that they were doing as much as they could to support people in their applications.

He said: “We provide funding to CARF and Front Line Fife and in addition to that our Welfare Reform assistants support individuals with referrals to those organisations.”

In 2017, a survey by Disability Rights UK found that many claimants thought that the face-to-face assessment was “a punishing and traumatic process”.

Survey respondents said that assessors were “ill-informed and not suitably knowledgeable of the disability they are preparing to assess”.

The DWP said that under PIP, 31 per cent of successful applicants get the maximum rate, compared to 15% under DLA.

A DWP spokesperson said: “PIP is a fairer benefit, which takes a much wider look at the way an individual’s health condition or disability impacts them on a daily basis.

“Therefore someone claiming DLA is not automatically entitled to PIP.

“We’re committed to ensuring that disabled people get the support they need, which is why we’re spending nearly £53bn this year on benefits to support them – a record high.”

Across Scotland, more than 30,000 people lost their disability benefits after applying for PIP.