Conditions under which people in Great Britain who are likely to die within a year may claim PIP, DLA and AA have been brought in line with those in Northern Ireland, and with UC and ESA. Were the Tories waiting for someone in particular to die in poverty beforehand?
The period of time over which you may claim the top rate of disability benefits (and Attendance Allowance) has been extended by six months… if you are expected to die within a year.
New regulations for the Department for Work and Pensions mean that, from April 3, the definition of “terminally ill” has been changed for the purposes of personal independence payment (PIP), disability living allowance (DLA), and attendance allowance (AA) in Great Britain.
The changes bring those benefits in line with Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance, for which they were put in place in April 2022. They were introduced for PIP, DLA and AA in Northern Ireland at the same time.
The definition now refers to someone who is suffering from a progressive disease, who can reasonably be expected to die of that disease within 12 months.
People thought to be in their final year of life may now receive financial support six months earlier than they could previously, under “special rules” that allow those nearing the end of life to get faster, easier access to the benefits, higher payments, and avoid a medical assessment.
In most cases, they will now receive the highest rate of PIP, DLA or AA.
So the question, for This Writer, is simple:
Why were people with terminal illnesses in England, Scotland and Wales required to wait an extra year for this, meaning they would have died before becoming eligible for it? Who did the Tories want to die in poverty?
The Tories are bringing this nightmare back again.
Jeremy Hunt’s Budget announcement that he is ending the Work Capability Assessment has turned out not to be the relief so many benefit claimants with long-term illnesses thought it would be.
He is ending the Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity element of Universal Credit, meaning that people who received it may now have to seek work under the new Personal Independence Payment system.
They’ll need to claim the new UC health element, and to do that they must also be eligible for Personal Independence Payment – and under this system they may also be required to seek work or accept job offers.
Additionally, assessments will now be carried out by work coaches from the Department for Work and Pensions, rather than the (so-called) health professionals who currently carry out the much-maligned WCAs.
There are fears that these civil servants will not have the proper training to identify claimants’ conditions and needs, and may be set target numbers of people they have to try to force into work, which they will impose on disabled people.
The Institute of Fiscal Studies think tank has estimated that a million people could be forced into work and 600,000 could lose an estimated £350 per month in support as a result of the change.
Hunt has been up-front about the intention behind the change: it’s to push people into work who would not otherwise have sought it.
The problem is that it may push people into work who simply cannot do it.
Experience has shown us what happens when the government forces people with long-term illnesses and disabilities to seek work:
They are rejected by employers – or find that they simply cannot do the work. Unsuitable for employment, and unable to claim benefits, they either starve to death or die of their health conditions.
We have seen it before – many times, in the years since the Tories came back into office in 2010.
It is scandalous that Jeremy Hunt is talking up a change that may make unendurable the lives of people who are already among the UK’s most vulnerable.
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