Did you watch Channel 4's Dispatches programme 'Britain on Benefits' which aired on 25th February?
If not you can do so here.
The show provided a 30 minute examination of the change in disability benefit from the current DLA (Disability Living Allowance) to a system called PIP (Personal Independence Payment).
PIP has been introduced for 2 reasons. The first, and least relevant reason is that a government think tank decided that 'Disability' was not a positive enough word to be included in the benefit system (hence PIP). More importantly the change has come about because of the "need for reform".
It is estimated that 20% of the current disability claimants are either doing so wrongly or fraudulently. So the PIP process is the government's best proposal for cutting over 500,000 people's benefits and therefore saving the public purse around £2 billion per year.
The new PIP assessment process is performed face to face with a physiotherapist who will decide, based on a points system, how much each individual's disability affects key areas of everyday life such as mobility. But what are the criteria? Well it was established in Dispatches that one of the mobility tests is 'Can you walk 200 metres unaided?'
This poses many questions in itself. For instance what if someone can walk 200m unaided but then cannot go much further? If that person relies on disability allowance to afford a car and is then assessed as being able to walk 200m and so loses their money, what happens if they live more than 200m from a train station or bus stop? They would then struggle to get around.
As with any policy decisions; especially those affecting people who are either vulnerable or struggling financially, it seems as though a lot of thought has gone into making cuts but very little has gone into creating a proper framework for implementing them.
There are many obvious flaws from the outset. We have learned that people with a lifelong disability or condition such as cerebral palsy, paralysis or the myriad others will have to be assessed every few years to see if "they have improved" or if "they may need less support". This ridiculous endeavour appears to exist so that nobody is exempt and that it is fair for all. However this in itself will carry a huge cost and is money that could be used to help those whom the government know full well are in need.