Tens of thousands of people have been awarded disability benefits for back pain. Others are claiming the cash for problems such as drug or alcohol abuse and asthma.
The Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is supposed to help those who have difficulty walking or washing and dressing.
But new figures released under Freedom of Information laws have revealed the benefit was paid to claimants with a surprising range of conditions.
Last year the mobility component of the benefit, worth up to £55.25 a week, was handed out to 140,000 people suffering from back pain.
There were 18,000 awards for alcohol and drug abuse, 25,000 for asthma and 1,500 for ‘frailty’.
The care component of the benefit, which is worth up to £79.15 a week, was paid to 135,000 people with back pain.
There were 21,000 awards last year for asthma, 19,000 for alcohol or drug abuse and nearly 1,000 for people suffering from ‘multiple allergy syndrome’.
The number of claimants has already spiralled to 3.2million.
And the amount of people claiming DLA is set to rise to 3.5million by 2015 – more than three times the 1.1million who received the benefit when it was created in 1992.
This costs taxpayers £13.2billion a year, around the same amount as the entire budget of the Department for Transport.
The Government’s plan to replace DLA with a new Personal Independence Payment has prompted angry complaints from medical charities and disability groups.
But ministers say that, without reform, one in 17 people will be claiming the benefit by 2018.
The latest in a series of radical changes to the welfare system will come into effect today.
Most benefit payments are due to be increased by just 1 per cent – a figure below inflation – while DLA will begin to be replaced by PIP.
Official figures suggest 71 per cent of those currently being paid DLA get the benefit ‘without systematic checks’.
Often they are simply asked to hand in a form assessing their capability which they have filled out themselves. Now most claimants will be told to attend a compulsory face-to-face assessment.
Like the DLA, PIP will be non-means tested, non-taxable and is paid to people whether they are in or out of work. Initially, it will only apply to new claimants but existing ones will gradually be reassessed.
Paralympian and disability rights campaigner Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has insisted the changes will hit vulnerable people.
And Liz Sayce, Disability Rights UK Chief Executive, said: ‘Our members tell us they face an incomprehensible maze of benefits changes – the bedroom tax, housing benefit changes, changes to social care eligibility, and the introduction of PIP.
‘Social security is a springboard to participation. It is an investment in disabled people’s contribution to society.
‘Benefits provide a bit of support, like an adapted car or a travelling companion for someone with a learning disability.
‘They can make the difference between the person living for decades isolated and out of work or making a full contribution to society.’
But disability minister Esther McVey insisted: ‘The Personal Independence Payment has been designed to better reflect today’s understanding of disability, particularly to update our thinking on mental health and fluctuating conditions.
‘We are introducing a new face-to-face assessment and regular reviews – something missing in the current system.
‘This will ensure the billions we spend on the benefit give more targeted support to those who need it most.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2338609/Disability-Benefits-140-000-claim-disability-cash-bad-Benefit-handed-thousands-conditions-including-asthma-drug-abuse.html#ixzz2VowAnkPn
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