Darlington Association on Disability Logo showing the letters D.A.D. breaking through a wallDarlington Association
on Disability
Centre for Independent Living


Welfare Reform Changes

On 8th March 2012, the Welfare Reform Act 2012 became law; the biggest change to the welfare system for over 60 years. Disability Living Allowance is to be replaced with a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment. 'Universal Credit' will replace a range of existing means-tested benefits and tax credits for people of working age. The Act also introduces changes to Employment and Support Allowance and benefit caps.

In order to help keep people informed, please visit our Legal Challenges page which provides some brief information and links on latest judicial reviews linked to welfare reform.

DAD will update this information as and when changes are made.

October 2013 Update re Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

There have been changes to the original timescale given originally for the roll out of PIP. The re-assessment of some current DLA claimants will start from October 2013 - but only if they live in Wales, East Midlands, West Midlands or East Anglia and there is a change in circumstance, end of an existing award, or young people approaching 16. The majority of existing claimants will not be reassessed until 2015 or later.

A basic post code map in pdf format can be viewed here showing the areas of the country affected.

Between 7th October 2013 and October 2017, working age individuals currently receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will get a letter inviting them to apply for PIP. There is a longer roll out of PIP because of concerns about the impact of changes on disabled people.

People who will be invited to apply first include:

• Children about to turn 16
• Individuals reaching the end of a fixed DLA award
• Individuals reporting a change in circumstances.

DLA will remain in place until a decision is made on a PIP application. If two people are living in the same household they could get letters at different times as it is a random process.

There are still no plans to replace DLA for children under 16 and people currently aged 65 and over who are already receiving it. However, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed that the PIP transfer will include those who are not aged 65 years old by 8th April 2013. This means that if you have not reached your 65th Birthday by 8th April 2013 and you are currently claiming DLA, then you will be affected by the change to PIP. So, because of the longer roll out of PIP until 2017, some DLA claimants could be as old as 67 or 68 when they get their letter inviting them to apply for PIP.

There is no change to Attendance Allowance for people aged 65 and over on 8th April 2013.

Approx. 25% of PIP claims will be awarded via paper assessment, where there is enough evidence, without the need for a face to face medical assessment. Atos are the medical assessors. They are not the same part of Atos that deals with ESA claims.

There are two parts, called components, to PIP (daily living and mobility) and two rates (standard or enhanced).

The PIP rates are:

• Daily living standard £53 enhanced £79.15
• Mobility standard £21 enhanced £55.25

PIP regulations now specify that someone’s ability to carry out an activity is assessed on the basis that it can be performed:

• safely;
• to an acceptable standard;
• repeatedly; and
• in a reasonable time period.

Whilst there is no statutory definition of the terms “to an acceptable standard” and “in a reasonable time period” the regulations do define:
• “safely“ as meaning “in a manner unlikely to cause harm to the claimant or to another person, either during or after completion of the activity“; and
• “repeatedly“ as meaning “as often as the activity being assessed is reasonably required to be completed“.

PIP assessment guidance for carrying out assessments state that consideration must be given to:

• approach - what the individual needs to do; what assistance or aids are required; how long it takes; and whether it is safe;
• outcome - whether the activity can be successfully completed and the standard that is achieved;
• impact - what the effects of reaching the outcome has on the individual and, where relevant, others; and whether the individual can repeat the activity within a reasonable period of time and to the same standard …;
• variability - how an individual’s approach and outcomes change over time and the impact this has on them.“

Eligibility for the enhanced mobility part will be limited to those who can walk no more than 20 metres, rather than to those who are ‘virtually unable to walk’ as at present (which often interpreted as meaning being unable to walk more than 50 metres).
Eligibility for the enhanced mobility part will allow access to the Motability scheme and Blue Badge scheme.
Carers may qualify for Carer's Allowance if an individual is assessed as entitled to either rate of the daily living component of PIP. If a carer already receives Carer’s Allowance they will continue to receive the benefit for as long as the individual continues to receive PIP. Carers of young people aged below 16 will not be affected by these changes.

How to claim for PIP

Phone the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on 0800 917 2222 (text 0800 917 7777) to make a new claim. They will send you a form asking you to describe how your impairment or long-term health condition affects you. You can describe your condition on both good and bad days, and when you’re doing different things.

You can ask someone to phone DWP for you, but you will need to be there too. DWP will ask for some personal details, so you should have this information ready:

• your National Insurance Number
• your address
• your date of birth
• your bank or building society details
• your telephone number
• the name of your doctor or health worker
• details of any time you’ve spent out of the country
• details if you’re in a care home or hospital, or if you’ve recently been in a care home or a hospital

For more information please visit: Gov.UK How to Claim PIP

April 2013 – Armed Forces Independence Payment

The Ministry of Defence (MOD), in conjunction with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), has introduced a new benefit called the Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP) with effect from 8th April 2013. The benefit is designed to provide financial support to service personnel and veterans seriously injured as a result of service to cover the extra costs they may have as a result of their injury.

AFIP is an alternative to PIP, DLA and Attendance Allowance (AA) for service personnel and veterans who have been seriously injured as a result of their service. Service personnel and veterans who receive AFIP will not be eligible to receive PIP, DLA or AA at the same time. Service personnel and veterans who are entitled to a Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP) of 50% or higher through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) are eligible for AFIP. Service personnel whose award does not include entitlement to a 50% GIP award or over can apply for DLA or PIP in the usual way.

For more information contact Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA), phone 0800 169 2277 or visit Veterans UK

April 2013 - Housing Benefits

Under-occupancy of social housing (Bedroom Tax)

Housing Benefit is to be restricted for working age social housing tenants. This means that if you claim housing benefit, are under state pension credit qualifying age and rent from a local Council, housing association or registered social landlord, you may be affected.

If you have one or more spare bedrooms, housing benefit will be reduced by:

• 14% for one spare bedroom (approx. £11 per week)
• 25% for two or more spare bedrooms (approx. £20 per week)

You will not be affected if you:

• Are in sheltered housing or supported housing designated ‘exempt accommodation’, which is provided by a council, housing association or registered charity that also provides care, support or supervision.
• Are of Pension Credit qualifying age (expected to be 61 years in April 2013 rising to 66 years by 2020).
• Have a non-resident carer (or team of carers) who regularly provides overnight care to you or your partner.

One bedroom is counted for:

• Each adult (over 16 years) or couple.
• A non-resident carer (or team of carers) providing overnight care for you or your partner.
• Two children aged less than 10 years, boy or girl.
• Two children aged less than 16 years, of the same gender.
• Adult children in the Armed Forces, who are deployed on operations.
• A foster child or potential foster child (only applies to approved foster carers, so long as they have fostered a child or become an approved foster carer in the last 12 months).

Example: a single parent living in a 3 bedroom house with a 5 year old boy and a 7 year old girl, will be seen to be under-occupying the property by one bedroom.

An extra bedroom should also be allowed, at the discretion of the local authority, for a child unable to share because of their severe impairment or medical condition. Consideration should be given to the nature and severity of impairment as well as the nature and frequency of care needed during the night and the extent and regularity of disturbance to the sleep of the other child.

If you are affected and will have a shortfall between your rent and the housing benefit payment, you may be able to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) from the local authority. Your individual circumstances should be considered, including:

• Financial difficulties
• Disabled people living in significantly adapted accommodation

The government has increased the funding for DHP by £30 million for 2013/14. Of this, £25 million is targeted towards those who live in properties adapted for disabled people.

Oct 2013 – Universal Credit

Universal Credit will replace a range of means-tested benefits and tax credits for people of working age, such as:

• income-based jobseekers allowance
• income-related Employment and Support Allowance
• income Support
• Working Tax Credits
• Child Tax Credits
• Housing Benefit.

It will be paid monthly as a single household payment.
From April 2014, all new claims will be for Universal Credit.
Existing claimants will move onto Universal Credit in line with a phased approach that is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.
Housing benefit will continue for those living in supported ‘exempt accommodation’, which is provided by a council, housing association or registered charity that also provides the claimant with care, support or supervision.

April 2013 – Benefits Cap

There will be a cap on the amount of benefits you can receive:

• £500 a week for lone parents/couples
• £350 a week for single claimants

You will be exempt from the cap if anyone in your household is getting:

• Attendance Allowance
• Disability Living Allowance
• Industrial injuries benefits
• Personal Independence Payment
• War disablement pension/armed forces compensation scheme payments (that are equivalent to industrial injuries benefits)
• War widow or war widower pension

You will also be exempt from the cap if you or your partner is getting:

• Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) support component. When universal credit is introduced you will be exempt from the benefits cap if you get the limited capability for work and work related activity element.
• Working tax credit even if awarded a “nil entitlement.” When universal credit is introduced you will be exempt from the benefits cap if you (or you and your partner’s) gross monthly earnings are equivalent to 16 hours a week at the National Minimum Wage.

April 2012 - Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

There is a one year limit on claiming contribution based ESA if you are in the Work Related Activity Group, because you are expected to make an effort to return to work.
If you are in the Support Group because you are not able to work or on income-based ESA, then you are not affected by this change.
The new ESA (Amendment) Regulations 2012provide that mental function descriptors can only apply where someone’s incapability arises directly from a mental health condition or as a direct result of treatment provided by a registered medical practitioner for a specific mental illness or disablement.
Physical descriptors can now only apply where the claimant’s incapability arises directly from a physical condition or as a direct result of treatment provided by a registered medical practitioner for a specific physical disease or disablement.
This is likely to make it more difficult for those disabled people who experience a wide variety of symptoms to qualify for ESA. It is particularly likely to detrimentally affect those with conditions such as ME which is a physical disorder but with accepted mental health symptoms.

You can be automatically treated as having a limited capability for work-related activity if you are receiving treatment (or are likely to receive it within six months) by way of chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or you are recovering from that treatment and Jobcentre Plus is satisfied that you should be treated as having a limited capability for work-related activity.

April 2013 - Council Tax

Council tax benefit is to be replaced with a local support scheme run by the Council. Entitlement for working aged people will be worked out on 80% of Council Tax (as opposed to Council Tax Benefit, where entitlement is based on 100%). Pensioners will not be affected.

April 2013 - Social Fund

Crisis loans and community care grants (including rent in advance), is to be replaced with a local Social Fund operated through the Council. There are two forms of support:

• Crisis support which aims to prevent an immediate deterioration to an applicant’s health by providing short term access to food and limited supplies of clothing and baby supplies, such as nappies and milk.
• Community Care support which aims to help applicants remain in the community or move back into the community after a period in supported or unsettled accommodation. It will provide access to a range of standard items such as beds, bedding, furniture and white goods.

There is likely to be no cash payment or loans.

For Crisis Support phone 01325 388514.

To apply for Community Care Support there is an on-line form at Darlington Borough Council's Social Fund

Darlington Association on Disability can also support you to apply.

Further resources
Personal Independence Payment - GOV.UK
Personal Independence Payment - DWP
Welfare Reform - DWP
Employment Support Allowance (ESA) - GOV UK
Benefit cap - GOV UK
Disability Rights UK
Benefits and Work (guides you can trust)
Welfare Reform - Darlington Borough Council
Veterans UK

For further information and advice please contact:
Darlington Association on Disability
Information Service
20-22 Horsemarket
Phone: 01325 489 999
Text: 07624 818780
Email: info@darlingtondisability.org or equalaccess@darlingtondisability.org