Benefits cut considered in wake of changes to disability payments

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The Department for Work and Pensions is considering cutting the benefits of around 50 people in the wake of controversial changes to disability payments, a minister has said.

Penny Mordaunt said that some 50 cases were awarded higher levels of personal independence payment (PIP) before the Government changed the rules around entitlement.

Ministers have previously suggested no-one will see their benefits cut as a result of the changes.

Responding to a written parliamentary question from the SDLP's Margaret Ritchie (South Down), work and pensions minister Ms Mordaunt said: "We are aware of a small number of cases, around 50 cases currently, where people may have been awarded a higher level of PIP by a tribunal.

"This could occur if their case was heard at appeal and a tribunal made a higher award, applying the rulings of the upper tribunal.

"We will not be claiming back the money these individuals received during the period before the new regulations came into force and are considering whether to adjust their payments to bring them in line with the amended regulations."

The Government restricted access to PIP after a tribunal said higher payments should go to those who cannot go out alone due to "psychological stress".

The changes ensure payments will not go to around 160,000 people and will save the Government £3.7 billion.

Ms Mordaunt added: "Recent changes to the PIP regulations clarify the original criteria used to decide how much benefits claimants receive.

"This is not a policy change, nor is it intended to make new savings.

"It will not result in any claimants, regardless of their health condition, seeing a reduction in the amount of PIP previously awarded by DWP."