Disability benefit reforms: A lack of public understanding?

Controversy continues to roll on around the Government's benefit reform proposals, with the Welfare Reform Bill proposing major changes to benefits issued yesterday.

According to the Government, proposed reforms of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), along with wider changes to benefit assessment processes will "reform and simplify" a system it believes has been riddled with unnecessary complication and frustrating bureaucracy.

However, we remain highly sceptical of the Government's claim that the new system will "support disabled people to live more independent lives".

In a recent interview with The Guardian, Maria Miller, minister for disabled people, said that concerns over the new system was due to "a lack of detailed information" and public understanding of the reforms.

We disagree.

To make swinging cuts to benefits - potentially withdrawing vital funds from the most vulnerable in society - reflects a lack of information and deep misunderstanding from the Government (not among claimants) on the needs of people with conditions such as Parkinson's.

Perhaps most alarming of all, is the proposal to abolish the mobility component of DLA for people in care homes (PDF file), which would withdraw a potential lifeline to many people with the condition.

We have signed up to a letter to The Guardian in response to Maria Miller's comments. And we'll be making every effort to get the Government to make amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill.

How do disability-related benefits make a difference to your independence? How would you be affected in your everyday life if it was taken away? Share your thoughts here.

For more information on the proposed benefit reforms, get in touch with our Social Policy team on 020 7963 9307 or email dobrien@parkinsons.org.uk


Donna O'Brien, Parkinson's UK said...

The Government's stance on taking away DLA mobility from publicly funded residents in care homes has softened: we now know from an impact assessment published with the Bill that the Government will formally review (and delay) the proposals. So we'll be working to ensure that they listen to what people with Parkinson's in care homes have already told the Government about the benefits that DLA mobility brings to their lives.

Anonymous said...

Maria Miller MP, Minister for the Disabled, claims that there will be no cut in the amount of money spent on DLA it will be kept the same as last year. At the same time she states that over the last 8 years spending on DLA increased by 30%. Surely that implies that there is likely to be a similar growth over the next period.

These two 'facts' suggest that there will be a real cut in the amount of money going to DLA, because if there is any increase in the need for DLA there won't be any extra money.

However, people might be taken off DLA to fund the spending to fund the increased demand. So this will mean a cut in the number people on DLA or a reduction in the amount of money they get.

The implication of this is that lots of people on DLA are 'scroungers getting money they are not entitled to, that is according to the Government.

There is more money not given to people who need it, ie not claimed than the money which according to the 'Millionaires Cabinet' is fraudulently claimed.

If the government went after those who 'avoid' paying their taxes with as much vigour as they attack the disabled we could afford to give all disabled people and their carer's a better, more fulfilling life.

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