Amber Rudd has announced a number of changes that will be made to the benefits system at a speech made by the head of the Department for Work and Pensions at Scope today.
The MP announced that disabled people who are passed the age of retirement will no longer be forced to attend “unnecessary” repeat assessments in order to continue receiving benefits, which will see 270,000 people be moved to “light checks” carried out every ten years.
However, those with a life-long condition who are under the age of retirement will still need to seek reassessment in order to continue receiving Universal Credit.
Rudd claimed in the speech that she was influenced by her father to “level the terrain” for disabled people. She said: “My father became blind in 1981. For 36 years his blindness was a normal part of my family’s life. Of my life.”
“Disabled pensioners have paid into our system for their whole lives and deserve the full support of the state when they need it most.”
Continuing the Conservatives’ push to get disabled people into employment, Rudd also announced that the government will increase the targeted number of disabled people in work by 1 million by the year 2027.
The MP also revealed that Work Capability Assessments and PIP assessments will be combined into an integrated from 2021 after a small-scale trial in order to create a more “joined-up” approach to the benefits system.
But the news has not been well-met, with Disability Rights UK benefits policy advisor Ken Butler criticising the merging of two “flawed and poorly administered” assessments.
He said: “We welcome a more common-sense approach assessments, including a commitment to not reassessing people who are over pension age.
“But there are some fundamental problems which still need to be addressed. Assessments for both Employment Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payment are flawed and poorly administered. The current figures for successful appeals on both benefits make that quite clear.
“You can’t merge two badly constructed processes and expect to come up with one fit-for-purpose approach.’
“Without a wholesale change of design to the assessment process, huge numbers of disabled people will continue to be denied benefits they are entitled to – that’s the change we need.
“In the meantime, our advice to claimants remains the same. If you are turned down for a benefit claim, seek support from benefits experts and use the independent appeals process.”
Shadow minister for disabled people Marsha de Cordova agreed, saying: “Rudd’s announcements today are totally inadequate. The hostile environment that this Government has created for disabled people is set to continue.
“These reforms do not address the fundamnetal flaws in a system that has repeatedly failed ill and disabled people, who continue to face cruel and callous PIP reassessments and an unfit for purpose assessment framework.”Get your copy of UNITE Magazine
Image: Flickr/Ministerstwo Spraw Wewnętrznych i Administracji