Disabled people ‘getting into debt to pay for essentials’

As changes to the disability benefit procedures begin to roll out, disabled people will find themselves in more personal debt as a result, according t…

As changes to the disability benefit procedures begin to roll out, disabled people will find themselves in more personal debt as a result, according to Scope.

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the charity, said: "In 2013 disabled people are struggling to make ends meet. Life costs more if you're disabled. But this year living costs are spiralling and income is flat-lining. Disabled people are getting into debt to pay for essentials."

Mr Hawkes believes the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) needs to be reformed to help target the extra costs people are now facing but said the "financial life-line" for disabled people is now being cut.

"The reform is fundamentally flawed," he remarked.

DLA will soon be replaced by Personal Independence Payments (PIP) across the UK and the initiative is now being rolled out in the north of England, before eventually being introduced for new claimants across the whole of the UK.

New claims will begin in the rest of the country from June 2013 and in October some of those currently receiving DLA will begin to be transferred to the new system, if there is a change in their circumstances.

It will be two years before the majority of the 3.3 million existing claimants will start moving over to PIPs.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has said the current system, where people were given benefit payments without further checks, must be reformed. Figures from the DWP show that more than 70 per cent of claimants get DLA for life.

It is the opinion of government ministers that the circumstances of some disabled individuals can improve over time and so there should be more regular assessments.

However, Scope says 600,000 vulnerable people will eventually lose their financial support as a result of the changes.

Disabled people who are already in debt could soon see their finances becoming even more restricted. For this reason many are turning to a debt consolidation loan, which has the potential to reduce monthly payments, freeing up money for everyday living costs.

By Joe White

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