|North West Pioneers New Benefit for Disabled People
People in the North West of England are set to be the first across the country to claim a new disability benefit - the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) - which is designed to support disabled people to live independent lives.
Disabled people will be able to submit a new claim from 8 April for the benefit, which replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for working-age claimants, which was introduced in 1992.
The Bootle Benefit Centre will handle claims from areas including Merseyside, North West England, Cumbria, Cheshire and North-East England. People in these locations will be the first to claim PIP.
Esther McVey, Minister for Disabled People said:
"Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit introduced over twenty years ago. The Personal Independence Payment will include a new face-to-face assessment and regular reviews - something missing in the current system.
"The new benefit is designed to better reflect today's understanding of disability, particularly for people with mental health conditions.
"Our welfare reforms are about ensuring the billions we spend on disability benefits give more targeted support to those who need it most.
"This is a phased introduction starting with a limited number of claims in the North of England as the Bootle benefit centre is one of our best performing centres across the country".
The new assessment will look at someone's ability to carry out a broad range of everyday activities such as washing, dressing, cooking and getting around.
It also looks at reading, verbal communication and how someone's engages with other people - so it better recognises mental health conditions.
It will give individuals an opportunity to discuss how their impairment affects their ability to live an everyday life, instead of trying to self-assess through an overcomplicated claim form.
New claims for PIP start in the North, and from June new claims will begin in the rest of the country. Current DLA claimants will start to be re-assessed from October, but only if there is a change in circumstance or an existing award ends.
This means most existing claimants won't be reassessed until 2015, after DWP has considered the findings of the first independent review in 2014.
DWP is currently writing to all 3.3m claimants of DLA about the process. Readers can also see if they will be affected by the changes using the online 'PIP checker': www.gov.uk/pip-checker