Autism Partnership evolving in Sheffield

Following the council’s “autism summit” in May 2015, a number of individuals and groups with a direct interest in improving information, opportunities and services for the autistic community in Sheffield (including members of Sheffield Autistic Society) have been working in different ways to try to make progress in line with the Autism Act (2009) and the National Strategy on autism.

We include people with autistic spectrum conditions, family members, carers and professionals who want  to “do something” about what has long been a severely neglected issue in Sheffield.

There have been working groups on Autism and Employment, and on Autism Training, Awareness and Information.

We are now working with the city council and local NHS to try to bring together more people and organisations in planning and improving services, through the creation of an official autism partnership body in Sheffield, as required under the Department of Health’s Statutory Guidance on Adult Autism.

Over the next few months, we hope to bring you news of these developments and, when there are opportunities to get involved, enable you to find out how.
 

Changes to Disability Living Allowance

In December 2010, the Government announced that from 2013, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will be replaced by a new benefit called the ‘Personal Independence Payment’ (PIP).

This is expected to be for working-age disabled adults only. However, the Government is reviewing whether to replace child DLA too.

What do the changes mean?

Like DLA, the new benefit will continue to be payable to people whether they are in or out of work, and be non-means tested.

We are concerned about how the assessment will work for the new benefit, as well as about proposals for regular re-assessments.

We welcome some of the indications from the Government that the specific needs of people with autism will be taken into account in the assessment of the new benefit.

For example, the consultation document on the changes emphasises that in ensuring eligibility for the mobility component of the new benefit, ability to get around should look at more than a person’s ability to walk and also include their ability to plan a journey.

However, we urge the Government to make sure that it properly involves people with autism in redesigning the assessment process to ensure that the needs of this group are comprehensively covered by the assessment.

We are also worried about proposals for re-assessment to become more commonplace, as this may cause unnecessary anxiety for people with long-term conditions, such as autism.

Moreover, the proposals set out a plan to reduce the number of bands of benefit payment and should be seen in the context of the Government’s plans to cut the projected spend on DLA for working-age disabled people by 20 per cent over the next three years.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which is the new benefit that will replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for working age people. ‘Working age’ in this context refers to people aged between 16 and 65.

DLA for working age people will be abolished. This process will start in April 2013 and will be completed by April 2016. For more information about this process please see our information sheet, The Abolition of Adult Disability Living Allowance.

What do we know about PIP?

PIP is similar to DLA in many ways:

  • PIP is not means tested (it doesn’t matter how much money you or your family has).
  • PIP is a benefit for people with disabilities.
  • PIP is a cash benefit and can be spent however you need to spend it.
  • PIP can be paid to people regardless of whether they are working or in education.
  • PIP can be paid to people who are also getting other benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance or Jobseekers Allowance.

To claim PIP you need to complete a claim form.

You cannot make a new claim for PIP after you turn 65, but if you are already receiving PIP you are still eligible for the benefit after the age of 65.

There are some key differences between DLA and PIP:

  • The PIP criteria and assessment process is different to the DLA criteria and assessment.
  • PIP has two components, a ‘Mobility component’ and a ‘Daily Living component’. Each component can be paid at either the ‘standard rate’ or the ‘enhanced rate’. A person can be entitled to either Mobility, or Daily Living or a combination of the two.
  • When you claim PIP you may be required to attend a face-to-face assessment.
  • To be entitled to any rate of PIP, you must have met the criteria for three months before the payments can start, and you must be likely to continue to meet the criteria for a further nine months. This is to prevent people being entitled on the basis of short-term conditions.
  • Awards of PIP will generally be for fixed periods of time (rather than indefinite or lifetimes awards).
  • PIP claims will be reassessed more regularly than DLA claims were.
  • The government is planning to spend 20% less on PIP compared to the DLA budget.
  • Fewer people will be entitled to PIP than are entitled to DLA.