Liverpool charity fears affects of reform on the disabled

DLA has been replaced with PIP, which charities fear could see a drop in the number of claimants Photo: PA

Liverpool is about to be hit 'disproportionally' hard by the government's welfare reforms, and charities in the city fear disabled people will be most affected.

On Monday the government scrapped the Disability Living Allowance, a payment received by 3.2 million people of between £20.55 and £131.50 a week to assist them in leading independent lives. It is if often used to pay for a carer or to cover transport costs.

At Daisy Inclusive UK in Liverpool, the benefit is vital.

The charity provides sporting activities, training and support for disabled people. It also employs disabled people too. The charity was founded by Dave Kelly when he lost his sight twenty years ago. 80% of his employees receive Disability Living Allowance.

Dave Kelly, who founded Daisy Inclusive, fears disabled workers will be hit hardest Credit: Daisy Inclusive UK

'DLA isn't just for people who can't work,' said Dave. '

'It was there for people to get into work as well. It gave people the mobility to get them to and from work, and to help them into work.

'If you haven't got the help and support to get out of the house, then what happens then? Isolation causes anxiety, depression and more long-term disabilities. It the long run that will cost the government more money.'

DLA has been replaced with a system of Personal Independent Payments. The government says the new benefit will mean it is better targeted.

Most claimants of DLA will now be required to attend a face-to-face assessment to judge whether they qualify for the new payment.

'For a lot of disabled people the pressure of going through an assessment is immense, most appeal the decision and they can be waiting months,' said Dave.

'It's been poorly handled. People are ringing us up not knowing what's going on, they haven't received a letter or any notice of an assessment.

'It's only through charities like us that disabled people are finding out. It's a really worrying time for them.'

The government denies the claim that the change to PIP is simply a cost cutting measure, but does admit that the number of people claiming help is 'unsustainable'.

'It's unaffordable to keep growing at the way it was, and we don't believe that it's correct that it started off as a benefit that 1.1 million people claimed and now is received by 3.3 million,' said Esther McVey, Minister for Disabled People.

'PIP is a benefit that represents disability in the twenty-first century. DLA was a benefit where 50% of people claiming it didn't have any additional corroborating medical evidence and 71% of people stayed on it for life.

'We need a benefit that is sustainable, and has an objective and fair assessment.'

Charities like Daisy Inclusive however fear the government is simply trying to reduce the benefits bill. Paula Wood has cerebral palsy. She fears the change will mean she can no longer volunteer for the charity.

'Society thinks when you're in a wheelchair you can't to anything but that's not true,' she said.'I'm doing a childcare course at college, and I volunteer at Daisy.

'DLA is a lifeline to me, if I didn't have it I wouldn't be able to do anything.'

For more on the change to Disability Living Allowance you can visit the Department for Work and Pensions website.