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Disabled Benefit Claimants rushing to get ahead of Test.

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Disabled Benefit Claimants rushing to get ahead of Test.

Post  Panda on Mon 8 Apr - 13:27

Disabled benefit claimants flooding welfare system to 'get ahead' of test,
warns Iain Duncan Smith

Thousands of benefit claimants have flooded the welfare system in order to
“get ahead” of a new test designed to see whether they need the money, Iain
Duncan Smith has claimed.

By Tim Ross, Political

10:07AM BST 08 Apr 2013

The Work and Pensions Secretary disclosed that there had been a surge in
applications for disability living allowance (DLA) in the past year in parts of
northern England where the benefit is being phased out.

From this week, DLA is being replaced with “personal independence payments”,
which will require claimants to take regular tests to assess their health and
the levels of state support they need.

The reform is the latest feature of Mr Duncan Smith’s highly controversial
overhaul of the welfare system to come into force.

He is already facing criticism and legal challenges over elements of the
programme and claims that his flagship new Universal Credit, which will replace
many working-age benefits, is in difficulty.

However, in a series of interviews, Mr Duncan Smith insisted that it was
right to tackle the “abuse” of the current system in which claimants exploit
loopholes and continue receiving money even if they no longer need help.

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He told The Sun that “the voices of working people who pay their taxes for
this system” are not heard often enough in BBC reports on the reforms.

“They experience in their daily lives the abuse of that system and I don’t
think that is often reported,” he said.

In the North East of England, where reforms to disability benefits are being
introduced, there was an increase of 2,600 in claims over the last year, up from
1,700 the year before, the minister told the Daily Mail.

In the North West, there were 4,100 claims for the benefits over the past 12
months, more than double the 1,800 in the previous year, he said.

“Seventy per cent of people on it have lifetime awards which means no-one
sees you ever again. It doesn't matter if you get better or your condition
worsens - it's quite ridiculous,” Mr Duncan Smith said.

“There are websites dedicated to telling you how to avoid the pitfalls of
making a claim for DLA. We have seen a bit of a rise in the run-up to PIP
(personal independence payment) - in some parts of the North West a doubling in

“And you know why? They know PIP has a health check. They want to get in
early, get ahead of it. It's a case of ‘get your claim in early’.”

Mr Duncan Smith attacked the coverage of his welfare reforms by the BBC
journalist Evan Davis as “a joke”.

The Work and Pensions Secretary criticised the “ridiculous” way that the BBC
had reported changes to the benefits system, claiming that the corporation had
simply repeated Labour Party propaganda.

Ed Miliband’s opposition to the reforms will prove to be an £80 billion
“suicide note” for Labour, he added.

Charities and campaigners have claimed that the reform will see up to 600,000
people lose support. The minister is facing continuing opposition to his wider
welfare reforms, which include new cuts to housing benefit for tenants with
spare bedrooms.

However, Mr Duncan Smith said Labour’s label for the reform as a “bedroom
tax”, claiming that the term was “a lie”.

“We had this out with the BBC and they stopped using it,” Mr Duncan Smith
told The Sun. “The word ‘reform’ very rarely passes their lips but the word
‘cuts’ is always in their broadcasts,” he said.

Mr Duncan Smith singled out Mr Davis, the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s flagship
Today programme, for particular criticism.

“Evan Davis keeps asking everybody all through the programme, ‘Should Iain
Duncan Smith resign?’ What for? Because that’s what the Labour Party was asking
for, so he had to repeat it. It’s a joke.”
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