Side view of a happy woman with physical disability working on a laptop

Reforms to target disability benefits

The Department for Work and Pensions has announced that it is planning to reform the disability benefits system, looking to move away from fixed cash benefits to more tailored support.

Outlined in the Modernising Support Green Paper, the government will look into how it can redesign the welfare system to ensure that those with disabilities and long-term health conditions are able to access the kind of support that can give them the best possible outcomes.

This news comes as the DWP announces that there are now 2.6 million people of working age claiming the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which was introduced in 2013 to support those living with disabilities to manage the extra costs of living independently. With 33,000 new awards for PIP every month, the government predicts that this will cost the taxpayer £28 billion per year by 2028/29, which would represent a 110% spending increase.

According to the government, this increase is due to rising numbers of people receiving PIP for mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, with these representing a monthly award increase of 50% since 2019.

Speaking about the reforms, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

“It’s clear that our disability benefits system isn’t working in the way it was intended, and we’re determined to reform it to ensure it’s sustainable for the future, so we can continue delivering support to those who genuinely need it most.

“Today’s Green Paper marks the next chapter of our welfare reforms and is part of our plan to make the benefits system fairer to the taxpayer, better targeted to individual needs and harder to exploit by those who are trying to game the system.

“We’re inviting views from across society to ensure everyone has a chance to make their voices heard and shape our welfare reforms.”

The three main ways that the government will reform the system are:

  • Making changes to the eligibility criteria for PIP
  • Reforming the PIP assessment so that it is more closely linked to a person’s condition
  • Exploring alternative approaches to ensure that support is still provided
Centre for Social Justive Quote on PIP

Andy Cook, Chief Executive of the Centre for Social Justice, added:

“With the welfare system now grappling with the combined challenges of economic inactivity, school absence and mental health, this consultation provides a meaningful opportunity to shape the future of Britain’s welfare state.

“We owe it to those most struggling to make sure that the benefit system provides the best support to those who need it. And with costs skyrocketing, it is time to bring the welfare system into the post-lockdown age.”

 

Image credit: iStock

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