Delay in roll-out of government’s Welfare Reform programme | BBC News | 26 October 2013

From BBC News, 26 October 2013.

The government’s welfare changes for disabled people in England, Scotland and Wales have been delayed.

People will move from Disability Living Allowance to the Personal Independence Payment next week in only certain areas instead of the whole of Great Britain.

Work and pensions minister Mike Penning said the process of reassessing people was “taking longer than expected”.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said it was the “latest example of chaos” in the department.

‘Controlled approach’

Claimants will remain on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for the time being except those in Wales, the East and West Midlands and East Anglia who will transfer to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) from Monday if their condition changes.

The government said the need for the alteration “only came to light at the beginning of October as a result of our ongoing analysis of the introduction of PIP” and this would ensure it could be handled “in a more gradual, controlled and manageable way”.

In a written ministerial statement, Mr Penning said: “Introducing natural reassessment gradually enables us to test the claimant reassessment journey.

“This is in line with the way we have been introducing all our other programmes of change and we have made it clear that we would take a controlled approach to introducing PIP, learning lessons from live running.”

‘No joke’

The government has said reform of disability benefits is essential because of the massive rise in its cost.

Ministers point out that the number of people claiming DLA has increased from about one million to 3.3 million since it was introduced in 1992, and it costs the taxpayer £13bn a year.

Ms Reeves said PIP followed the government’s Work Programme and Universal Credit schemes in being beset by difficulties.

She said: “The delivery problems we are seeing at the Department for Work and Pensions now risk descending into farce. But for thousands of disabled people who are already extremely anxious about the changes, this is no joke.

“Not only is David Cameron’s government out of touch but it’s increasingly incompetent.”

Disability charity Scope said the move was just a “tweak” and still believed the whole reassessment process was “too blunt an instrument”.

The adjustment to the timetable will not affect people in Northern Ireland.


ANALYSIS by Chris Mason, Political correspondent, BBC News


Few would dispute that the government’s plans for reforming the welfare state are ambitious – ministers have described them as the biggest shake-up of the system ever attempted.

But the programme is politically dangerous if Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, is unable to deliver the changes.

Problems with the introduction of the Universal Credit have been highlighted by the National Audit Office.

But those around Mr Duncan Smith insist that change – and the replacement of the Disability Living Allowance with the new Personal Independence Payment – will still be completed on time.

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