Dla reform and Personal Independence Payment – completing the detailed design

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4.24 Recipients of DLA are disqualified from receiving benefit, and payment is terminated, where they have been sentenced to:

4.25 For the period leading up to trial a person held on remand has their payment of DLA suspended. However, a lump sum payment of DLA is paid for the arrears accrued where a suspension has been lifted, for example because they have been found "unfit to plead", “not guilty" or found “guilty” but not received a penalty involving a term of imprisonment. Someone released on bail pending trial will only have outstanding arrears paid at the conclusion of their trial.

4.26 The prison environment, whether at an open or secure prison, caters for all the disability-related needs of disabled prisoners (whether on remand or as a result of a sentence of imprisonment). As such there is a principled case that, to avoid duplication of provision, payment of benefit should stop when someone is placed in legal custody.

4.27 We also know that under current arrangements, notifications of imprisonment or legal detention are taking a long time to reach the Department, resulting in overpayments which have to be repaid once someone is released from custody. Such a situation can disadvantage people who have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment and on release have to begin repaying the overpaid benefit.

4.28 Section 87 of the Act sets out that, unless Regulations otherwise provide, Personal Independence Payment will not be payable for any period a claimant is undergoing imprisonment or detention in legal custody. We are proposing that when an individual enters prison or legal custody, payment of Personal Independence Payment stops after 28 days. It is also the intention that this measure should apply to imprisonment or legal custody in relation to both criminal and civil offences. Any two terms of imprisonment of less than 28 days will link together if they are less than a year apart (as could happen when someone is arrested, detained on remand, bailed and subsequently jailed). Any period of imprisonment will also link with periods spent within a care home or hospital and vice versa and include provision that a transfer between one institution and another will not result in the 28 day period starting again or payment recommencing.

4.29 These new rules are intended to ensure that expenditure on Personal Independence Payment is not duplicated with other state-provided provision and further supports the aim that expenditure will be sustainable in the long term and focused on those most in need of additional support. Allowing for a short period of continued payment of Personal Independence Payment for all people who are imprisoned or detained in legal custody will enable recipients to cover short-term ongoing costs (for example an outstanding bill) and reduce the number of ex-prisoners leaving prison with an overpayment of benefit.


Following his arrest for handling stolen goods on 1 August 2013, Peter is ordered by a Magistrate to be detained in legal custody pending trial. His wife reports that he is in prison three weeks later and benefit is suspended with effect from the date Peter was first detained. Peter's trial takes place in March 2014 and he is found guilty and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. Currently he would receive no payment of benefit from 1 August 2013 and would only become entitled to be paid benefit again when he is released having served his sentence. On his release he would also owe the Department three weeks of benefit payments which he would have to pay back from his benefit. Under our proposals he will be paid 28 days benefit from 1 August 2013 and benefit will be terminated with effect from 29 August 2013. Because Peter's wife reported that he had been detained within this period he leaves prison owing no money and payment of his benefit is reinstated.

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