A quarter of claimants in South Tyneside lose disability benefits under new system

A quarter of people getting disability benefits in South Tyneside have had their payments stopped because of a new assessment system.

Friday, 28th December 2018, 5:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 3:59 pm
A disabled entrance door button. Picture by PA Wire/PA Images

Disabled charity Scope say many are “losing out on vital support” under the Personal Independent Payment (PIP) system, which, it says, is beset with problems.

The Government has been moving claimants on to PIP since 2013 from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and, in South Tyneside, 25% of claimants have failed the assessment.

Grahame Cassidy

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According to the Department for Work and Pensions, 5,517 people in the borough have applied to switch from DLA to PIP with 1,370 turned down.

Grahame Cassidy, chief officer of Age Concern in South Tyneside, said: “Some improvements have been made to the system since 2013, but a significant number of people are still losing out.

“Lots of people who were previously entitled found they were not getting their benefits, or people were getting less than they were before.

“The process puts people off from applying. The system doesn’t work for everybody.

“If you had a physical disability, you could secure enough points, but that was not the case with people with a mental health problem who often couldn’t.

“It is a harder process for people to engage with the health representative who does the assessment. They have to travel to Sunderland, Durham or Newcastle for that.

“If you have a problem with mental health and never go out of South Tyneside, having to go a big town for the assessment is not easy.

“There should be some kind of recognition for certain conditions. There needs to be a simpler process.”

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

Claimants can get a maximum of £83.10 for daily living costs and up to £58.00 if they have mobility issues or need help with getting around.

The DWP decide how much to award based on a ‘How your disability affects you’ form and a points score from the face-to-face assessment and

evidence that the claimant provides.

In South Tyneside, the most common reason for applicants losing their disability benefits was failing the face-to-face assessment.

Assessors turned down 978 claimants after the assessment, and 174 people for failing to turn up to the appointment.

A further 211 people were turned down because they did not send in the correct form on time.

A spokesperson for Scope 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.

The DWP said that under PIP, 31% 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.

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