April 2012

Toxic PIP's

We've all heard about the French company PIP, selling toxic breast implants to unwitting women across Europe. Well, I believe the UK Government's welfare reform of the DLA - the PIP - will be just as toxic and harmful as those cheap French breast implants.

PIP (Personal Independence Payments) will undoubtedly inflict just as much hurt, if not more, than that inflicted on those hundreds of intoxicated women across Europe. Yet unlike these women who are now turning to governments in each of Wales, Scotland and England, for help, it is the UK's own government which is harming its disabled citizens throughout the United Kingdom.

The Westminster Government is introducing this new "benefit" because it thinks that too many people are getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA). They think it's too easy to get and no-one gets reviewed, so instead of addressing these issues within the existing DLA - they will scrap DLA altogether.

PIP will be introduced, in 2013 to cut the DLA budget by 20%, irrespective of people's actual needs and despite the fact by the DWP's own admission, there is only 0.1% fraud in the disability benefits system.

It was originally thought this would mean that anything between a third and a half of all disabled people of working age, currently in receipt of DLA, will lose all or part of their entitlement when PIP is introduced. Why - because by restricting the new assessments to disabled people of working age, you need to cut the total amount spent on that group by 33% to make a 20% saving in the overall budget.

It was also estimated that 280,000 claimants (27% of all those who would otherwise have been entitled) will lose entitlement to Higher Rate Mobility whilst there will be 370,000 (40%) fewer claimants entitled to Lower Rate Mobility.

If 27% of those disabled people living in Scotland who are currently on the Higher Rate Mobility component were to lose entitlement on the introduction of PIP that would be 26,400 people who would either lose entitlement entirely or be moved onto a lower rate.
And, again, if 40% of those disabled people living in Scotland (who are currently entitled to the Lower Rate Mobility Component) were to lose entitlement on the introduction of PIP that would be 33,400 people who would lose out.

Thus in total very nearly 60,000 Scots disabled people will potentially stand to lose entitlement to their current level of mobility support. As such their losses will range between £20.55 and £54.05 per week (i.e. between £1070 and £2800 p.a.).

Looking at this another way, Scotland currently has 11% of all claims to Higher Rate Mobility. Thus if 280,000 fewer people across the UK are to qualify for this level of support in future that would translate into 30,800 disabled people in Scotland losing entitlement to support at the Higher Rate.

Similarly 11.6% of all those currently entitled to Lower Rate Mobility live in Scotland. Thus if 370,000 across the UK are expected to lose entitlement to the Lower Rate then we would expect 42,920 Scots disabled people would lose their entitlement to Lower Rate Mobility.

Therefore, the numbers that we would expect to lose some, or all, of their mobility support would be even higher; totalling nearly 74,000

However, all these figures don't take into account last March's budget, which announced further cuts to the welfare budget. Another £10b (on top of the £18b) will now be cut.

It is now thought that those who were to be exempt from being moved from DLA to PIP (thereby not having to be reassessed) - i.e. older disabled people and disabled children - will be targeted also. And there is still that hidden clause in the budget about removing mobility from disabled adults in care homes ......

From the statistics around the Work Capability Assessments (WCA) there is the suggestion that even more people will lose out in the PIP Assessments than originally modelled by the DWP. That's because, the two private companies which do the assessments (ATOS which assesses for WCA, and G4S, which will assess for PIP) will chase targets to ensure that the company maximises it's payments from DWP.

Both companies are paid more for every claimant that is denied benefit; for example, it was originally envisaged that 20% of claimants would fail the WCAs, but in fact 38% have been failing them (though 8% subsequently have had their benefit re-instated after appeal). That means that the DWP target of 20% refusal rate is being exceeded by an enormous 50% margin.

On top of this, the UK government has refused to acknowledge the cumulative affects these cuts will have on the quality and equality of disabled people's lives. These purulent, toxic measures are going to be even more virulent when the DWP's Independent Living Fund will close in 2015; and £57m will be withdrawn from the 3,400 disabled people in Scotland dependent on the ILF for their independent living support packages.

Although all due concern should be given to the personal tragedy of the many hundreds of those women who have been infiltrated by toxic PIP breast implants, the immeasurable toxicity of the Westminster Government's PIP as it affects the general health and quality of life of disabled people throughout the UK is heartbreaking.

We really do need to unite to fight for its reprieve.

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