Cameron cuts even Thatcher’s disabled benefits

As the Welfare Reform Bill receives its Commons second reading today, cancer charities have joined the increasing chorus of those concerned about the potentially disastrous impact of the legislation.

 As the Welfare Reform Bill receives its Commons second reading today, cancer charities have joined the increasing chorus of those concerned about the potentially disastrous impact of the legislation; here, Neil Coyle continues Left Foot Forward’s analysis of the bill. Neil is Director of Policy for the Disability Alliance and a Labour Councillor in Southwark but writes here in a personal capacity.

The Welfare Reform Bill confirms that Disability Living Allowance will be replaced by the Personal Independence Payment with a cut in expenditure of more than £2 billion. In the June budget George Osborne announced a 20 per cent cut to DLA. The benefit is paid to people with care or mobility needs whether in or out of work and was intended to help with the higher costs of living associated with impairments/health conditions.

DLA cuts were unpredictable: the 2010 Conservative manifesto stated DLA would be ‘protected’ and it seemed unlikely Cameron would remove a benefit announced under Thatcher.

The Department for Work and Pensions immediately balked at the chancellor’s statement that the cut would remove 20% of ‘caseload and expenditure’ – no doubt partly due to the PR nightmare of 360,000 disabled people immediately identified as the 20% caseload.

If an initial lack of clarity was a problem, things got far worse for disabled people trying to understand proposals.

The consultation to abolish DLA was hampered by incompetence: DWP failed to meet government standards on the length of time provided to ensure appropriate public involvement – despite the communication needs of many of the people affected; and the consultation included inaccuracies, including the claim there is no process for DWP to review DLA payments. IT problems forced the consultation to close after the Welfare Reform Bill’s publication.

The timing suggests the consultation is not valued and the approach has generated considerable anxiety – resulting in a petition for the government plans to be withdrawn until adequate time and analysis has been undertaken. However, the policy failings are worse given the potential number of people affected: it is estimated more than 800,000 will lose out to generate the £2.1bn cuts.

In June the government also announced that DLA mobility payments accessed by disabled people in residential care would be cut. These payments provide help with transport costs to see families, attend medical appointments and help some disabled people in work. In June DWP stated the cut would affect 50,000 people; by October this figure had reached 80,000.

This error demonstrates poor analysis of the initial decision which failed to consider the effect on disabled children in residential special educational needs settings. The cut may prevent parents collecting disabled children for weekends and school holidays. This will leave vulnerable disabled children isolated and excluded from family life.

In attempting to justify this decision the government has proposed competing explanations. These include accusing care homes of failing to meet regulatory obligations and likening care homes to hospitals. None of the explanations have yet convinced disabled people, carers, residential care providers, social service professionals or councils that resources will still be available to meet mobility needs when the cut is implemented in March 2013.

With the clock ticking, the situation looks bleak for the 80,000 disabled people and their families set to lose essential support. The coalition approach to cutting DLA expenditure has failed to adequately consider the impact on disabled people directly affected – or potential costs.

In the silos of Whitehall the cuts may appear achievable without impact. But it is extremely likely that DLA cuts will cause: higher NHS costs (including hospitalisation); greater need for council support (residential care); and disabled people and carers being unable to retain employment due to reduced financial or other support resulting in lost Treasury contributions.

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62 Responses to “Cameron cuts even Thatcher’s disabled benefits”

  1. Mr. Sensible

    We know there seems to be a revolving door between the current DWP and the Right Wing Press, and we’re seeing the result.

  2. Ben Hudson

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron cuts even Thatcher's disabled benefits:

  3. DearEngland

    The thing that really angers me is that I’ve not heard any dissent from any top Labour politicians over this bill, I always thought that Labour was the party that supported the vulnerable and less fortunate of our society but obviously I am mistaken.

    I will never vote again for the Labour party because I feel they have let the disabled community down, they were the original instigators of this policy, they brought in companies like Atos Health Care and Unum formerly UnumProvident, a company which in the USA has been fined millions of dollars for being what was described as being “Disibility denial factories”.

    Atos Health Care HCPs are encouraged to fail claimants who go for assessments, one HCP even forgot to put down one claimant was an amputee, these are dangerous times for the disabled and sick community, many claimants have already died fighting for what should automatically be theirs, some have evn committed suicide, I think the coalition are going to have an almightyfight on their hands If they continue to target the disabled community…

  4. Dear England

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron cuts even Thatcher's disabled benefits

  5. wendy

    I put this on our facebook page, it would not do it through the direct link.
    I thought you would want to know.

  6. marjorie narey

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron cuts even Thatcher's disabled benefits #political #blog #LOL

  7. Daniel Pitt

    Cameron cuts even Thatcher's disabled benefits: #ConDemNation

  8. JM

    And there was I hoping Thatcher was claiming benefits and was going to get them cut . I would really like to see a politician fill in the application forms for benefits, preferably when they are ill, depressed and unable to think clearly then get it right first time.

  9. Can someone explain the disability reform to Cameron, please? | Left Foot Forward

    […] the coalition would consider reversing the decision to axe the Disability Living Allowance Mobility Payments  for 83,000 claimants living in care homes – as detailed in Part 4, clause 83 of the welfare […]

  10. Kathy Smith

    Cameron cuts even Thatcher's disabled benefits | Left Foot Forward

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