Original article from Kent Live
A new 'benefit swap' scheme is being considered by the Department for Work and Pensions.
However, concerns have been raised suggesting it could make the system even more confusing for those who are on Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
The benefit, which was introduced for those who have long-term physical or mental conditions, is claimed by more than 2.6 million people.
There are also long-term plans for PIP to eventually take the place of the Disability Living Allowance, as Chronicle Live reports.
In order to access PIP, recipients must have difficulty with daily living and mobility.
It pays out a maximum of £608 every month and can be given alongside other benefits such as Universal Credit and State Pension.
Claimants are also able to trade some or all of the Enhanced Rate Mobility Component of their PIP for a Motability car.
As part of its Health and Disability Green Paper, the DWP is weighing up the future benefits such as PIP.
The green paper says: "The ability to move around and make journeys is a key part of independent living.
"We currently provide mobility allowances through PIP and DLA. People can choose to spend these allowances however they wish.
"A popular way to spend mobility allowances is through the independent Motability scheme. The Motability scheme, which is operated by the independent Motability charity, helps people meet their mobility and travel needs.
"It allows disabled people and people with health conditions to use their PIP/DLA higher-rate mobility allowance to lease a new affordable car, wheelchair accessible vehicle, scooter or powered wheelchair.
"In 2020, 1.8 million people were receiving the PIP Enhanced mobility or DLA Higher mobility award and were eligible for the Motability Scheme. In that year there were 635,000 customers using the scheme
"The charity which provides the Motability Scheme benefits from a range of tax concessions and the direct transfer of mobility allowances.. This means that they are able to provide leases that are around 44 per cent cheaper than they would be otherwise.. Currently, 34 per cent of eligible people join the Motability Scheme."
It is now looking into ways to expand the scheme, adding: "We could explore improving access to aids, appliances and services by allowing people to voluntarily swap all or part of their benefit payment for these.
"This could create a more personalised service than when benefits are just paid as financial support."
But it says claimants have given feedback that "swapping a benefit payment for goods or services should always be optional… because a benefit payment lets people choose how to meet their specific needs."
Other issues around the idea have also been expressed. The DWP says it's possible that the additional benefit swaps may become too confusing.
The green paper says: "There are some key things to consider when deciding whether to move to a system offering practical support.
"We heard that disabled people can find the system complex and confusing.
"Offering more options could make the system more complicated, especially where practical support is also offered by local authorities or the NHS.
"It may only be deliverable if a large number of disabled people are interested in similar types of support. If most people continued to opt for a financial payment, we might not be able to provide practical support in a cost-effective way."
A consultation on proposals raised in the green paper is running until October 11, 2021.
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