THOUSANDS of disabled people across the district have had their benefits stopped after the Government introduced strict new rules. A total of 2,100 people in the five Bradford-district parliamentary constituencies are no longer receiving any handouts, with the Department for Work and Pensions gradually phasing out Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and replacing it with the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). These benefits help people pay for disability-related living costs, such as personal carers or mobility aids, but fewer vulnerable people have been receiving them since 2013.
Figures show that in October last year, Keighley had 2,932 claimants – 300 down on 2013.
And in the Shipley constituency, which includes Cullingworth and Denholme, the total was 2,465 – a fall of 200.
The reduction across the district has sparked outrage among disability campaigners and MPs, who want the Government to review the changes.
The assessment process, which is carried out by private contractors, came under fire after a 2017 review revealed that 65 per cent of those who challenged DWP decisions successfully had them overturned in court.
Keighley MP John Grogan said: “On average each week, three disabled people who have lost their entitlement to disability benefits contact my office.
“In some cases, they can barely walk.
“A civilised society is defined by how it treats those of its citizens who through no fault of their own face the greatest difficulties.
“I am afraid as regards the assessment process for Personal Independence Payments, we are not meeting that standard.”
The picture is the same in neighbouring areas to Bradford, with 500 fewer claimants in the Batley and Spen constituency and 300 fewer in Calder Valley, while the number of people receiving the benefit has dropped by 200 in Leeds North West and by 200 in Skipton and Ripon.
Others critical of the situation include Imran Hussain, MP for Bradford East, who said: “The Government is failing disabled people with a dehumanising assessment process that is widely distrusted, not fit for purpose and focused more on reducing the claimant count than identifying needs.
“It is time that PIP assessments were scrapped and replaced with a tailored plan so that people get the support they need.”
A DWP spokesman said: “We’re committed to ensuring that disabled people get the full support they need, and under PIP 29 per cent of people are getting the highest rate of support, compared with 15 per cent under DLA.
“Assessments work well for the majority of people, but one person’s poor experience is one too many, and we’re committed to continuously improving the process for people so that they get the support they need.
“Decisions are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist.
“Nearly 3.1 million PIP decisions have been made, and of these nine per cent have been appealed and four per cent have been overturned. In the majority of successful appeals, decisions are overturned because people have submitted more oral or written evidence.”