Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a non means tested benefit designed to help with the additional costs of disability mental health problems where help is needed to look after the claimant or the claimant has mobility problems. It is also available to carers who are looking after someone with a disability.
There are two components to disability living allowance; the care component, which has three rates of payment, and the mobility component, which has two rates of payment (according to the amount of support or assistance the disabled person is deemed to need). You can be paid one or both components.
The weekly rates for the care component are;
- lowest rate - £20.55,
- middle rate - £51.85,
- highest rate - £77.45.
The weekly rates for the mobility component are:
- lower rate - £20.55,
- higher rate - £54.05.
From April 2013 DLA will be abolished and replaced with Personal Independent Payments (PIP). The change will only apply to working age adults.
Where people previously had to submit a very detailed form to apply for DLA, this will now be replaced with a medical test. The infamous Atos is preferred provider for the contracts to carry out the test in 2 out of 3 regions in the UK.
The government have said they wish to reduce costs by 20%. It is suggested that this will mean 20% of those currently claiming will not qualify for PIP when it is introduced, or alternatively (as the government has not yet set the rates for PIP), it is possible they will reduce the amount of the benefit. However the government has said it intends to focus support on those in greatest need, and has plans to scrap the lower rate of the care component.
DLA is most commonly used to contribute towards disabled people’s non-luxury items like transport, heating/laundry and aids/equipment. Disabled people say that the support is a lifeline.
From June 2013 all new claims will go straight onto PIP. From October 2013 DLA recipients with change of circs reassessed under PIP, and then full reassessment will be rolled out to all DLA claimants from January 2014.
Changes to ESA
In April 2011 Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) replaced incapacity benefit and income support on the basis of illness and disability, and people will continue to be moved onto ESA until March 2014. IB claimants will be reassessed under the Work Capability Assessment, and either put into the ‘Work Related Activity Group’ (WRAG) where claimants are asked to undertake activities to prepare them for future entry into the job market (and can be sanctioned for non-compliance), put into the ‘support group’, where the claimant has no mandatory activities, or deemed fit to work and placed on Job-Seekers Allowance (JSA).
In May 2012 Contributions based ESA (WRAG) claims were limited to 1 year (including the assessment period). After this period the claimant would be transferred to income based ESA if deemed eligible. Contributions based ESA is a flat –rate, non means tested benefit, awarded on the basis of previous national insurance contributions paid by the claimant. Savings, income and capital are not taken into account when the award is made. Limiting this for 1 year means that many will not qualify as they have income from other sources (eg. their partner is working).
These changes are part of a package of reforms to the tax and benefit system this government is making - dismantling entitlements to social security and welfare support and attacking some of the poorest people in our society. Many more people are being pushed into poverty because of what this government is doing.
More information, and any further changes to the details documented here, can be found at: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/index.htm