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Charities seek to safeguard disabled people's benefits
Epilepsy Society is urging newly appointed Government contractors to consider the needs of people with epilepsy when reassessing their disability benefits.
The charity is part of the Disability Benefits Consortium which is encouraging the contractors to sign up to 10 pledges which they believe will deliver a fair deal for those with a disability.
PIP - Personal Independence Payment
The Government has awarded a contract worth hundreds of millions of pounds to two private sector companies, ATOS and Capita, to reassess disabled people for a disability benefit - Personal Independence Payment or PIP. This is designed to help with the essential higher costs of living.
ATOS already conducts face to face assessments for people accessing Employment and Support Allowance (the benefit for disabled people out of work), but continues to draw intense criticism due to the high rate of inaccurate decisions, successful appeal rates (40%) and waste of restricted resources. Appeals to ESA decisions cost over £26 million in 2010/11.
Disability Benefits Consortium
The Disability Benefits Consortium is concerned that many disabled people will be stressed and fearful of the new process – as well as mistrustful given the overarching aim of reducing expenditure. DWP plans show that 500,000 fewer disabled people will be eligible for support.
The consortium is calling on ATOS and Capita to learn lessons from the Work Capability Assessment, used to assess people for ESA since 2008, and sign up to 10 pledges that will help alleviate concerns, establish a greater trust in the new system and deliver a process that is as fair as possible under Government plans..
Disability Living Allowance
PIP is being introduced as the Government abolishes Disability Living Allowance (DLA) which was introduced from 1992 to help disabled people with essential higher living costs. The change affects working age disabled people (16-64 years of age) from April 2013 .
Epilepsy Society’s communications and campaigns manager Amanda Cleaver said: ‘We urge contractors to sign up to the proposed pledges and also recognise the particular needs of people with epilepsy.’