Disability benefit claims go up over 50 per cent in eight years

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THE number of people claiming Disability Living Allowance in Hastings has rocketed by 52 per cent in just eight years.

The non-means tested benefit is given to people who have specific care or mobility needs, like help getting out of bed, and it helps many of those who get it remain in work.

And according to official figures released this week the total number of claimants here in Hastings has gone up from 3,890 in 2002 to 5,920 today.

That puts Hastings as the second highest hot spot in East Sussex, behind Brighton and Hove, and is almost 1,000 people higher than the figure for nearby Eastbourne.

And, according to the Government, many of the people who are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) are getting less help than they need because the system does not currently involve regular assessments.

Maria Miller, the Government minister for disabled people, told the Observer: “The number of people claiming DLA has soared, but it’s clear that the right support is not always getting to those who need it the most.

“DLA needs to help disabled people live independently and remove the barriers that they face in day-to-day life.”

The Government is replacing the DLA system with a new benefit, tagged Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which it claims will make sure the right level of support is available for disabled people here in 1066 Country.

The new way of doing things will include reassessing claimants over time to make sure the support they are getting fits their needs, which often change as the years go by.

A recent estimate suggests as many as 20 per cent of people on DLA haven’t had any contact with the department within the last decade.

Maria Miller added: “Our reforms will make it simpler and easier to understand and will mean that we will have more contact with people so that if their condition changes they can get any extra help and support they might need.”