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People on disabled benefits may receive voucher in place of cash payouts

Mel Stride

The government has announced further changes to the disabled benefits system, which could see claimants offered vouchers in the place of cash pay-outs.

Last week the Department of Work and Pensions [DWP] stated individuals suffering with their wellbeing will no longer be eligible for Personal Independence Payment [PIP], but will be offered medical advice from mental health professionals.

More changes to PIP will be announced this week, which could see claimants receiving receipts which can be claimed back from the state and vouchers in place of their monthly cash payments.

The plans will be released tomorrow, Tuesday 30th May, in a “green paper” consultation by work and pensions secretary, Mel Stride [pictured above].

Changes to the benefits system could include health practitioners authorising additional costs and GPs outlining costs in line with their patient’s health condition.

PIP costs the country around £22 billion a year, the number is expected to rise by 50 percent by 2028.

Around 360,000 people claim PIP because they are living with anxiety and depression, double the figure five years ago.

Mr Stride told The Times: “There are those that have perhaps milder mental health conditions, or where perhaps there has been too great a move towards labelling certain behaviours as having certain [medical] conditions attached to them, where actually work is the answer or part of the answer.

“What we’ve got to avoid is being in a situation where for those people we too readily say, ‘well, actually, we need you to be on benefits’.”

The MP suggests individuals suffering with their mental health should seek professional advice talking to therapists or offering them support in the form of care packages or respite care in place of cash payments.

Stride has stressed the government is prioritising people suffering with their mental health and the planned changes will support them finding work.

But, he did admit: “It’s difficult to describe as sustainable when we’re looking at a 63 per cent increase in PIP spend, about £13 billion over the next few years.

“These are huge amounts of money.” 

[ Johnny Timpson, one of Rishi Sunak’s dementia champions, recently quit in protest over the treatment of disabled people and the complexity of the benefits system. ]

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