Reassessments for people who receive disability living allowance (DLA) to move onto the new personal independence payment (PIP) will now be made later than originally planned, the Government has said.

Currently about 3.2 million people claim DLA, receiving weekly payments of between £20.55 and £131.50 to assist them in leading independent lives.

In April, PIP will replace DLA. The Government had originally planned to contact existing DLA claimants between October 2013 and March 2016 and invite them to make a claim for PIP – for which they would go through an assessment to determine the amount they would be entitled to.

But disabilities minister Esther McVey said in Parliament on December 13 that the reassessments will now be phased in, starting with a controlled start area in the northwest and parts of the northeast of England from April 2013.

The Government will then take new claims nationally from June 2013. From October 2013, people whose DLA award is due to end and people who report a change in their condition will start to be reassessed, along with the assessment of young people who reach the age of 16.

However, the peak period of reassessments will not now start until October 2015. “That means we can learn from the early introduction of PIP, testing our process and making sure the assessment is working correctly before we embark on higher volumes,” McVey said. “We will then consider the findings of our first independent review, planned for 2014, and act on them.”

McVey also confirmed that the rates for PIP will be set at the same rates as DLA. This means that the daily living enhanced rate of PIP will be the same as the higher rate care component of DLA, and the standard rate of the daily living component will be set at the middle-rate DLA care component. The mobility rates of PIP will be the same as the DLA rates. Additionally, PIP will continue to be uprated by inflation.

Mark Lever, chief executive of The National Autistic Society, welcomed the extension of the reassessment timetable: “The Government has listened to concerns about the speed of roll-out of the new benefit. It can be particularly challenging to assess adults with complex disabilities, such as autism, so we are pleased that there will be an opportunity for the Government to reflect on how the assessment for PIP is working before rolling it out more widely.”