The Benefits and Work website claims that people will lose their Disability Living Allowance permanently if someone accuses them of fraud. There is some truth behind this claim but the headline is a wild speculation from the information that they actually have.
The facts behind the story are this:
People who currently receive DLA will all be “invited” to apply for Personal Independence Payments over the next few years. A large number of people who receive DLA are not expected to qualify for the same level of support from PIP and so this move is rightly feared by many. People can apply for PIP before their DLA runs out if they wish – these are “self selectors” in DWP speak. Anyone whose care or mobility needs change will have to apply for PIP rather than alter their DLA claim. As long as nothing changes, most people can remain on DLA until 2015 or the end of their award.
The scary part of this story comes from a quote that Benefits and Work found on Rightsnet.
“At our local JC+/customer/representative forum meeting last week a DWP partner support manager brought the following change of wording to the attention of the meeting (second bullet point on page one of link)
In his words anyone who was ‘bubbled’ (shopped) would be taken as if they were a ‘self selector’ in the DLA/PIP reassessments.
Nothing appears to have been changed in the PIP trans regs to allow this but it is worrying when the PIP/DWP ‘thinking’ changes the words ‘those claimants where we receive information…’ from the actual legislation.”
The source claims that anyone who is reported to the DWP for fraud will be treated as if they have reported a change and therefore have to apply for PIP.
This is a fairly tenuous link, but a worrying one all the same. The overwhelming majority of reports to the benefit fraud hotline are either malicious or wrong and the fraud rate for DLA is incredibly low. If all that is required to trigger the move to PIP is a false report then a lot of people are going to be badly affected. However, we do not know whether this second-hand claim is true, or whether the practice will be widespread or just confined to one or two areas, and we do not know if a person will have to be found guilty of benefit fraud or just reported – the wording could mean either. Given the history of the DWP’s approach to sanctions I wouldn’t say it is out of the question for this to happen against the rules, but we will have to wait and see about that.
I find the way that Benefits and Work have reported this to be irresponsible and misleading. In their email they stated that “The DWP have ruled that…” when there is no such ruling, only a second-hand report. They also missed out the third sentence from their quote, which stated that nothing has changed in the PIP regulations.
I do not think anyone should worry about being moved because of a malicious fraud report, at least until we have more evidence.