Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Help for Disabled Facing Shake-Up; WITH Disability Living Allowance Set to Be Replaced by Personal Independence Payment Reporter ANDREW PAIN Looks at How It Will Change Benefits for the Disabled

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Help for Disabled Facing Shake-Up; WITH Disability Living Allowance Set to Be Replaced by Personal Independence Payment Reporter ANDREW PAIN Looks at How It Will Change Benefits for the Disabled

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDREW PAIN

DISABILITY Living Allowance is set to be replaced by a new system which aims to cut Government spending on benefits. The proposals have sparked fierce opposition from protesters who believe that half a million disabled people may be pushed into poverty.

Under the plans DLA will be replaced by a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Currently the Government spends pounds 12.6bn every year on DLA - of which pounds 165.4m goes to people across Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar and Cleveland, Hartlepool and Darlington - and hopes to cut the figure by a fifth.

PIP will include face-to-face assessments with a health professional and regular reviews. The DLA system works through self assessment.

Mum-of-three Judith Robson, 57, from Hartburn, was 49 when she lost a lifetime battle with failing vision.

She now works as a volunteer co-ordinator at Stockton's Blind Voice UK and said she understood the reasons for wanting reviews but hoped it wouldn't lead to people who need help losing benefits.

"I don't see a problem with a regular review," said Judith, who is married to Paul, 57, and is mum to Christopher 23, Jonathan 21, and Mark, 19. "It is a worry that people who desperately need more benefits and more money to live on may not get that help.

"There are a lot of issues around it and hopefully the Government will see that and nobody who needs assistance will be worse off. Somehow though I don't think that will happen."

Paralympic gold medallist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson of Eaglescliffe argued in the House of Lords for PIP to be trialled first but her amendment was defeated by 229-213 in a vote.

Dame Tanni said: "My concern was that there had not been enough work on the assessment process and really understand what this would do for a large number of disabled people. …

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