A cool look at the arguments around DLA PIP benefit changes

Analysing the benefit changes is no mean feat. Photo: Reuters

Today's benefit changes are about as sensitive as they come - which is why a cool head is needed to analyse the proposals.

The Government's reform of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will take place gradually over the course of several years as face to face testing for all applicants is introduced for the first time.

There will be winners and losers as the DLA bill is replaced by the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Some claimants will get more support and some less. Some who would have qualified for elements of DLA may not qualify for PIP.

The Government says these reforms aim to stop runaway spending on DLA by introducing rigorous testing of those applying for this non-means tested and non-work related benefit. They say they are not cutting the bill, they are stopping it growing.

Testing like this, the Government claims, has already worked for sorting out and cutting back the incapacity benefit bill (now called ESA).

Analysing the benefit changes is no mean feat. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Recent Government figures show that 900,000 of those claims were dropped before the new tests for that even took place.

But campaigners say the Government must now "defend the indefensible", and explain how it can cut benefits for the most vulnerable in our society.

They say those genuinely in need of extra money to remain independent and active could lose out. They also fear the proposed tests are slanted and flawed.

There is plenty of heat and passion in today's debate, but change will be slow and next year the Government will see an independent review of the process to assess its impact so far.

But as of now, despite endless projections and speculation, the truth is neither side can know the full impact or fairness of these changes, as the testing process is only now to begin. What we can all be safe predicting is that he overall bill will not go up.

The question today is not should reform be happening.

The question is will this reform target those who may be exploiting the slack in the system - whilst protecting those who depend on this support to live dignified, independent lives.