Disability benefits

People with a disability have previously applied for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – a non-means-tested, non-taxable benefit to help them with the extra costs of living with a disability. This is being replaced by the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).


While DLA awards are made on a mixture of self-assessment and medical evidence, under PIP entitlement is decided by regular assessment with tighter eligibility criteria.

As a result, the Department for Work & Pensions’ original impact assessment predicted there would be 500,000 fewer people receiving PIP than would have received DLA under the existing rules.

DLA and PIP both play an important role in assessing eligibility for a number of council- and DWP-administered benefits and services including Blue Badges and Freedom Passes. 

All claimants aged 16 – 64 must now apply for PIP. DLA is still available for those under the age of 16 and those of pension age can apply for Attendance Allowance. Existing DLA claimants are currently being reassessed for PIP.

Assessment and reassessment in London is being carried out by Atos Healthcare, frequently through sub-contracted smaller organisations. 

The replacement of DLA with PIP will has a number of significant implications for boroughs.

It is possible that relatively large numbers of residents who are currently automatically eligible for a Blue Badge or a Freedom Pass as a result of their DLA award could lose that eligibility, forcing them to apply directly to their borough.

Receipt of a DLA award by a claimant, partner or qualifying young person acts to exempt a household from the benefit cap. So if a significant proportion of households currently exempt from the cap for this reason were to lose their award once they have been reassessed for PIP, this could potentially lead to a significant increase in the numbers of capped households within a borough.

London Councils produced an extended briefing exploring some of these issues and other implications for boroughs of the move from DLA to PIP