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500,000 could lose disability benefit

Half a million people who currently receive disability living allowance (DLA) may be ineligible to get help under the replacement programme, personal independence payments (PIP).

The changes will help cut the annual cost of such payments by £2.24bn, according to work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who said far more people have been claiming under the current system than can possibly be explained by illness, sickness or disability.

Two million claimants will be reassessed in the next four years to ensure the benefit effectively gauges people’s capability, and their need for extra support.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Duncan Smith said: “We are creating a new benefit, because the last benefit grew by something like 30% in the past few years.

“It’s been rising well ahead of any other gauge you might make about illness, sickness, disability or for that matter, general trends in society.

“A lot of that is down to the way the benefit was structured so that it was very loosely defined. Second thing was that in the assessment, lots of people weren’t actually seen.

“Third problem was lifetime awards. Something like 70% had lifetime awards, (which) meant that once they got it you never looked at them again. They were just allowed to fester.”

He added: “It’s not like incapacity benefit; it’s not a statement of sickness. It is a gauge of your capability. In other words, ‘Do you need care, do you need support to get around?’”

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