DWP to 'swap cash for vouchers' in plans to overhaul monthly PIP payments

A claimant with a benefits letter from the DWP
-Credit: (Image: Stoke Sentinel)


Cash payments could soon be swapped for vouchers as part of plans to overhaul the current benefits system by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The new proposal could see those on Personal Independence Payments see significant changes to the way they receive financial support from the Government. A new Green Paper sets out the proposed reforms the DWP believes are needed to improve the welfare support system for 2.6 million working age adult claimants in England and Wales. The plans include making changes to eligibility criteria for PIP, redesigning the assessment process so that it is more linked to a person's condition and finding alternatives to regular monthly payments.

The Daily Record reports that proposed alternatives in the 'Modernising support for independent living: the health and disability Green Paper' outline a move away from a fixed monthly cash transfer system, which includes vouchers, a receipts system, one-off grants and making purchases for products or services through a catalogue scheme.

READ MORE

PIP was introduced in 2013 to provide non-means tested cash payments to disabled people and those with health conditions to help them live independent lives. PIP was designed to be a contribution to extra costs arising from their disability and be a more sustainable, dynamic benefit that would also pay greater attention to mental health than its predecessor, Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

There are currently no restrictions or stipulations on how PIP claimants can spend their money. However, DWP states that in the decade since it launched, the nature of health and disability has changed and the "caseload and costs of the benefit have risen significantly, reflecting increasing self-reported prevalence of disability".

DWP Mel Stride recently explained: "We believe it is the right time to look again at ensuring government support for people with ill health and disabilities is focused where it is most needed. We also believe there may be better ways of supporting people to live independent and fulfilling lives and this is the idea running through this Green Paper."

"This could mean financial support being better targeted at people who have specific extra costs, but it could also involve improved support of other kinds, such as physical or mental health treatment, leading to better outcomes."

The Green Paper adds that the DWP wants to consider whether supporting people through direct, regular cash payments is still the best approach, or whether other approaches would better target their resources - delivering the right support to the people who need it most.

Alternatives to regular cash payments

The Green Paper explains that if DWP were to consider other ways of supporting people with disabilities and long-term health conditions - apart from providing regular cash payments - it could continue to contribute to people's extra costs through alternative models.

These could include:

The consultation accompanying the Green Paper aims to determine whether these alternative models could help people with the extra costs of their disability or health condition.

Other forms of support could include health care, social services care provision and respite, which it states are also important to help people to realise their full potential and live independently.

"We would like to understand whether some people receiving PIP who have lower, or no extra costs, may have better outcomes from improved access to treatment and support than from a cash payment," it adds.