Eleanor’s Story

‘With the Disability Living Allowance changing into the Personal Independence Payment, a lot of people will be reassessed. I’m worried because there might be some changes to what I get.’

Eleanor is a trainer and advocate for disabled women’s rights. After having lived abroad in France and the US for several years, she came back to the UK for a job. She co-founded Sisters of Frida to help disabled women who face daily barriers.

The Disability Living Allowance (DLA) helps her with her mobility and care costs which supplements the few hours care package from her local authority, so she’s very worried about what might happen now that the DLA is being phased out and replaced with Personal Independence Payments.

Having a support worker means that for example if I need to travel on a train, very often the rail assistants do not appear, so they help me get assistance. The support worker supports me to be able to work. The Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is going to be changed to something called Personal Independence Payment (PIP). A lot of people will be reassessed, including myself, and there might be some changes to what I get. And even more worrying is this new Universal Benefit.None of us know what’s going to happen, but I do know that women might lose control of the money that they have because it’s going to go into a family pot.’

What is the Personal Independence Payment (PIP)?

The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a benefit in place to help with the extra costs caused by disability for those aged between 16 and 64. Recipients get between £21.80 and £139.75 a week depending on how their condition affects them. This is determined through regular assessment. The PIP was introduced in the 2012 Welfare Reform Act to replace the Disability Living Allowance which is being phased out. Potential recipients fill in a form describing how their disability affects them and attach evidence to support their claim. The Department of Work and Pensions then passes information to a health professional who decides whether the person in question needs a face-to-face assessment, in most cases they do. The healthcare professional will then review the evidence and report back to the Department of Work and Pensions. A decision is then made as to whether the person is entitled to PIP and if so at what rate. If the person disagrees with the decision then they are able to appeal it.

What are the issues with the Personal Independent Payment?

The criteria established in the PIP assessment process have been described as deeply flawed by many disability campaigners and by the media. The assessment element of PIP has been taken out of the public sector and is now outsourced from private firms such as French company ATOS. Many disability campaigners have criticised this type of outsourcing claiming that private companies are not doing the assessments properly in order to meet targets and cut costs. As a result of this, many disabled people are being classified as more abled than they are in reality and are losing their PIP or having it drastically reduced. A great deal of attention was brought to the scheme due to many highly controversial cases coming out.

Additionally, many disabled people are concerned about the Universal Credit System that was launched in 2013. The system aims to reform and simplify the existing system by merging the six main types of means tested benefits. Disability campaigners believe that this system oversimplifies and fails to take the needs of disabled people into account. As a result they believe that disabled people are being left in precarious positions without the assistance and support they truly need.

Did you know?

Disabled women and women with long term health condition make up 1/3 of all women in UK refuges.