Over the weekend the Disability Alliance – representing most of the leading disability charities in the UK –launched a legal challenge against the Government over its plans to abolish Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and introduce a new benefit (Personal Independence Payment – PIP).

The Government has claimed the legal challenge is jumping the gun a bit – that the Disability Alliance is second guessing the impact of the reform and spreading panic unnecessarily. 

I would beg to differ. The Government has been very clear that the reform of the DLA has one overriding principle – to reduce the cost. The Government announced in is Emergency Budget – a year ago now – that the DLA bill would be cut by 20 per cent. That meant either giving less money, or giving it to fewer people. The latter seems to be the option of choice, as the Personal Independent Payment (PIP) was unveiled in December 2010. This floated various ideas including – having a stricter eligibility test (which the Government first called “medial”, but is now calling a more media friendly “objective”); having to be disabled for six months and likely to be disabled for a further six months before being eligible to claim (this may be reviewed on the grounds of it being a stupid idea); not having automatic entitlement to PIP like DLA currently has for particular conditions (e.g. those who are deaf blind); and only having two levels of entitlement, rather than three at the moment. It is likely those claiming the “low” band of DLA will simply get cut off.

It is true the PIP plans are not firmed up. But like NHS reform, the Government’s ‘listening exercise’ and subsequent amendments seems to be in direct relation to the level of public protest. For example, scrapping DLA mobility component for those in residential care was put on hold (not dropped) after a massive outcry.

So if the Government’s ‘listening mode’ involves testing the limits of what people will accept and then stopping just short of it, why should the Disability Alliance stay quiet until the plans have been set in stone?

I think, in fact, it may be the Government that is jumping the gun a bit.

Demos released Destination Unknown in October last year, which showed a very large impact of welfare reforms on disabled people. It amounted to a £9bn loss of income over the course of this parliament. DLA reform is just one cut of many that makes up this total, but our findings led us to one conclusion – that the Government hadn’t carried out a proper impact assessment of these cuts. It hadn’t joined the dots and realised that there would be a cumulative impact of several cuts to benefits, and to public services, that would fall on the same groups of disabled people.

Our further work, Counting the Cost, also showed that disability related costs, for which the DLA is designed to compensate, aren’t just linked to the level of a person’s need or disability. Other factors, like being unemployed, having unsuitable housing, relying on public transport, etc. also made a person’s disability related costs much higher. The PIP assessment seems unlikely to take these factors into account when calculating the level of payment and seems set on only looking at a person’s functional ability.

So who’s rushing in? The Disability Alliance – which is challenging a new benefit which the government has stated will cut £2.17 billion off of people payments by 2015 and not provide an equivalent level of support for the 652,000 disabled people currently receiving low rate care DLA – or the Government, which is pressing ahead with reforms without properly considering their impact or suggestions on how to improve them?

 

Robert

It's funny really because when Blair started his Welfare Reforms I wrote to many of the Labour party Union donors, I wrote to many of the charities who backed labour, and I was informed that Labour had no option but to put these reforms in place.

DLA is being changed to PIP's yet labour s Brown wanted to end it remove it not replace it, Brown came out with comments which annoyed most disabled people yet some charities who hoped to become suppliers of jobs to the cripples and retards, said oh my look how much money we could and can make.

Now the Tories are basically carrying on with New labour ideal knowing that the contracts have been given out, and many charities have failed to get on the ladder, they return to us the disabled saying we will fight.

Sod off.

ALLEN. WILKINSON

We dont seem to be getting thro to the politicans about our concerns on the DLA changes may be one way to make them listen
is to say at the next election all disable groups and age uk will target the 50 most marginal tory seats to ensure they lose the next election and remove there income like they want to do to us

ed callaghan

I think its sad that genuine people with disabilities are being made scapegoats in a cost cutting political witch hunt.Sadly the many could suffer for people who cleverly exploit the law the incapacity benefit payment for someone who is fitt and well actually isnt bad i know guys who are getting sloshed every night smoking weed then quoting their human rights who get incapacity payment because they claim to be depressed.Ive been a hca in the nhs for 22 years who cares about my 10 hour shifts other than no one.This is reality there are thousands out there milking the system they care about x box thats it i know a few of them.Its a mess im no tory but something has to be done but as ever the first casualty of war is innocence.Ive dedicated my life to serving disabled people im also a christian thats the real problem here there are people who dont give jack diddly about society just suck off every one else if you challenge them suddenly your Adolf Hitler.I hope the people who are exploiting the rights of disabled and sick people end up really sick then have to deal with a system that discriminates against them my heart and my prayers go out to the disabled communitty God loves you its not his fault people choose to be lazy act like selfish dickheads.Go ahead spongers send your hate e mails i care as much as you when your skinning up laughing your heads off at Ed Balls in a tracksuit.

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