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Welfare Reform Act

Volume 555: debated on Monday 10 December 2012

The Petition of members of the National League of Blind and Disabled and of residents of Teesside,

Declares that the Petitioners believe that the Welfare Reform Act and the abolition of the Disability Living Allowance will adversely affect disabled people, including disabled workers at Ayresome Industries on Teesside.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to review and reverse welfare reform and cuts to service that disproportionately hit disabled people.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Tom Blenkinsop, Official Report, 21 November 2012; Vol. 561, c. 680.]

[P001135]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions:

A key element of the Government’s welfare reforms is the replacement of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people aged 16-64 with Personal Independence Payment. Personal Independence Payment will not apply to children aged under 16 or people aged 65 and over on 8 April 2013 when it is introduced. Children and those aged 65 and over will still be able to continue to claim DLA if they are eligible to do so.

This is a long overdue principled reform which will bring disability benefits into the 21st century. The Government are absolutely committed to supporting disabled people, to improving the quality of life of those facing disadvantage and to tackling poverty by addressing the causes driving it. Under Personal Independence Payment a greater proportion of people will get the higher rates compared to Disability Living Allowance.

We are designing Personal Independence Payment (PIP) to reflect a modern understanding of disability and to treat all conditions fairly and ensure proper support is in place. This is a real step forward. Reforming Disability Living Allowance (DLA) also provides an opportunity to better target support for disabled people and to enable them to lead full, active and independent lives.

The PIP assessment criteria will reflect a more complete consideration of the impact of an individual’s health condition or impairment—whether physical, sensory, mental or cognitive—than the current DLA assessment, ensuring that fair account is taken of all impairment types. The PIP assessment process will be empathetic and give claimants the opportunity to put across their view of the impact their health conditions or impairments have on their lives.

The Government continue to spend around £50 billion a year on disabled people and services, including £13.6 billion on Disability Living Allowance (2012/13 forecast), £15 billion on adult social care, £1 billion on free transport for elderly and disabled people and £320 million on disability employment programmes. The Government’s welfare reforms will ensure the billions spent, better reflect today’s understanding of disability and offers the targeted support disabled people need to live independent lives

We also recently announced improvements to Access to Work—A much valued scheme which helps disabled people enter and retain employment by providing valuable support such as help with travel to work, purchase of specialist equipment and support workers. We have accepted the first phase of recommendations from the Access to Work Expert Panel. These include introducing a fast-track assessment process so individuals who already know their support requirements will move swiftly through their application and we will make it easier to transfer equipment so that individuals can move more easily between employers with their special aids and equipment. In addition we said we would extend exemption from cost sharing of adjustments to small businesses—removing a cost on these businesses taking on new disabled employees.