Architecture Magazine

Overwhelming Consulation Responses to DLA Changes Ignored

By The_woodlouse @the_woodlouse
Today's blog is very much removed from my usual topics, but it is about something that is extremely important, concerning changes to disability benefits.  As someone sensible pointed out on twitter yesterday "anything that concerns 'disabled' should concern anyone that might become disabled - i.e. everyone".  My connection to the issues is as carer and husband to Anna who receives DLA to help with disability resulting from Fibromyalgia, ME, Bipolar Disorder, Arthritis and a host of associated conditions.
The coalition government recently proposed wholesale reform of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and other benefits that provide essential support to disabled people to help them with the extra costs involved in mobility and care, both of which can be incredibly expensive.  DLA is not an 'out-of-work' benefit and in many cases the support it provides can help disabled people remain in work.
The Responsible Reform researchers used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain more than 500 responses to the consultation that were submitted by disabled people’s organisations, disability charities and other groups – including the response submitted by Boris Johnson – and have carried out the first detailed, independent analysis of those responses
The report (referred to as #spartacusreport on twitter) finds that Government misled MPs and Peers over the hostility to disability benefit reform. It finds that Parliament has been given only a partial view of the overwhelming opposition to the Coalition’s planned reforms of Disability Living Allowance.  This opposition was previously not released to public scrutiny by the Government
Findings included:

* 98 per cent of respondents objected to the qualifying period for benefits being raised from 3 months to 6 months
* 99 per cent of respondents objected to Disability Living Allowance no longer being used as a qualification for other benefits
* 92% opposed removing the lowest rate of support for disabled people
In all three cases, as well as many others, unexpectedly considered response came from London’s Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson. He said in his response

“The Mayor would call for the Government to retain the three-month qualifying period as the increase to six months will mean that people with fluctuating conditions have increased difficulty meeting the qualifying period. People with fluctuating conditions face the same barriers that all disabled face in relation to higher costs of living and DLA is essential to maintain a decent quality of life.”
“We would recommend that the passporting system remains the same as under DLA as it has worked well when signposting people to additional benefits to which they may be entitled.”
“The Mayor does not support this change, as those on the lower rate care component may have additional costs as a result of their impairment but may lose their access to this benefit as part of the proposed removal under the reforms.”
The Mayor also objected to the government's strategy for clamping down on disability benefit fraud, arguing:

"The government proposes imposing penalties if disabled people do not inform the government in changes in their circumstances. However, the Department of Work and Pensions statistics give the overall fraud rate for Disability Living Allowance as being less than 0.5%. For those with fluctuating conditions asking them to report every change to their condition would prove very stressful."
The new report has been researched, written and funded by sick and disabled people, thousands of whom contributed to the research through their use of social media.
Its authors now hope to use the report to persuade members of the House of Lords to back an adjournment debate calling for a pause of at least 6 months. In that time, plans for PIP should be reconsidered with the views of disabled people properly taken into account.
Please help the campaign by reading, sharing, and promoting the report.  Contact your MPs, send them links to it.

Responsible Reform - full report:
Press release:

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