MORE than 300 children in Oldham were stripped of disability benefits after their 16th birthday, it has been revealed.

Oldham Forward Together, a disabled people’s organisation, said lives of disabled young people were being “ruined” because of the “abusive” benefits procedure.

Oldham council meanwhile said it was “very frustrated” with the government figures which cover a seven-year period and urged anyone affected to get in touch immediately.

More than a third of young people (35 per cent) who claimed Disability Living Allowance (DLA) during childhood in the borough failed to qualify for the adult version of the benefit, Personal Independence Payment (PIP), according to data from the Department of Work and Pensions.

DLA and PIP are awarded to help individuals and families meet the extra costs associated with long term health conditions and disabilities, with claimants currently entitled to receive up to £152 a week tax free.

Around 530 young claimants in the area – 55 per cent - saw their benefit award rates increase or stay the same after moving to PIP but 334 had their awards withdrawn.

Of the cases disallowed between October 2013 and October last year, 244 applicants were rejected after failing to score enough points - awarded to reflect their mobility and care needs - during the assessment part of the process.

There were also 32 youngsters who were refused due to failing to attend assessments without good reason and 58 who did not meet the basic eligibility criteria.

Another 103 applicants were approved for PIP but had their award rate cut.

A spokesperson for Oldham Forward Together said: “Taking away a young person's disability benefits via the abusive PIP system after they have previously qualified for DLA is ruining many lives at a crucial time when the young person needs transitional support and security.

“We call on the local authority to help mitigate this disaster by providing welfare rights advocacy to ensure these bad DWP decisions are appealed, and benefits won back for the young disabled people of Oldham.”

In response, a spokesperson from the Oldham council said: “Many residents across our borough rely on the support of benefits to assist with their way of living. When that much needed support is taken away this can cause various amounts of undue stress and difficulty for those who truly need it.

“That is why we are very frustrated to hear that young people, previously in receipt of Disability Living Allowance, have not subsequently qualified for the Personal Independence Payment as adults.

“We urge all of those affected to get in touch with our Welfare Rights Service as soon as possible so we can help you to appeal this decision and to provide you with any other support you may need at this time."

Oldham Forward Together's condemnation of the PIP system echoes comments from Ken Butler of Disability Rights UK, who said the sudden withdrawal of benefit support at a young age could be traumatic and impact upon household finances, care payments, local authority support entitlement and the ability to remain in education.

He said: “The level of support and extra financial costs do not disappear overnight when a disabled young person becomes 16.”

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said over 60 per cent of child DLA claimants go on to receive PIP, with award rates staying the same or increasing for over half of all claimants.

He said the Government was working hard to ensure disabled young adults received support, adding: “PIP is designed to assess how people are affected by their disability, rather than just the disability itself.

“Many DLA claimants have not undergone any kind of assessment of their needs for several years and as a result their condition or their needs arising from their condition may have changed substantially.”

To appeal DWP decisions residents can fill in a Welfare Rights form on the Oldham Council website by clicking here:”