UK welfare policy: impact on disabled people

Analysis of the impact of Personal Independence Payments and changes to employment and support allowance.

This document is part of a collection

1. Introduction

The Scottish Government published its annual report on the impact of welfare reform in Scotland in June 2017. [1] The report analysed the financial impact of the UK Government's welfare policies introduced since 2010 at a Scotland and Scottish local authority level by 2020/21. It also brought together evidence on the impact of welfare policies on income inequality, poverty and child poverty and equality groups.

This report is supplementary to June's annual welfare reform report in that it focusses on impacts on disabled people. Many of the impacts on disabled people are primarily associated with two major welfare policies:

  • The introduction of Personal Independence Payment ( PIP) which is replacing Disability Living Allowance ( DLA) for working age disabled people as the main non-means tested disability benefit.
  • Changes to Employment Support Allowance ( ESA) which includes the limiting of the contribution based benefit to 1 year, the introduction of a stricter sanctions regime and the removal of the work-related activity component.

This report brings together additional evidence and analysis of the financial and non-financial impact of these policies on the support available for disabled people in Scotland. The report also includes case studies of people affected by these policy changes which have been provided by Disability Agenda Scotland ( DAS), Child Poverty Action Group ( CPAG) and Citizens Advice Scotland ( CAS).

The key findings of this report are that:

1. In Scotland, whilst 45% of those being re-assessed from DLA to PIP have seen (or are expected to see) an increase their award, 44% will initially (before mandatory reconsiderations and appeals) see their award reduced or removed completely. The worst affected disabled people could lose DLA awards worth over £7,000 per year, if they are disallowed for PIP when re-assessed.

2. Based on current DLA to PIP re-assessment outcomes, around 30,000 disabled people in Scotland could lose entitlement to non means-tested disability benefits due to re-assessment to PIP once full rollout is complete.

3. Around 1 in 5 people who previously claimed DLA and challenge the outcome of their PIP assessment will see their award increased following a mandatory reconsideration, whilst two thirds of appeals that are cleared at a hearing overturn the original decision in favour of the claimant.

4. There is clear variation of PIP award rates between Local Authorities. For new claims, award rates vary between 52% in East Dunbartonshire, and 37% in Dundee City. For reassessments, rates vary between 82% in Stirling, and 72% in Aberdeen. Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Renfrewshire have some of the lowest success rates for new and re-assessment PIP claims across all Scottish local authorities.

5. The majority of disabled people surveyed by the Disability Benefit Consortium who went for an assessment felt the stress and anxiety associated with their PIP assessment made their condition worse. A majority of those surveyed also felt that assessors did not understand their condition.

6. Between 7,000 – 10,000 disabled people per year are set to be affected by the removal of the work-related activity component, losing up to £29 per week each year until the policy is fully rolled out.

7. Around 430 disabled people in Scotland were subject to an ESA sanction in the year to March 2017, with nearly half of those sanctioned recorded as having mental and behavioural disorders. Whilst 17% of individuals sanctioned since 2012, have been sanctioned for a period of over 3 months.

8. Without Scottish Government mitigation through Discretionary Housing Payments, over 40,000 disabled people claiming Employment and Support Allowance would lose around £12.50 per week (£650 per year) due to the bedroom tax.


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