Wednesday, 8 December 2010

D's response to the DLA PIP reform paper

D says...

I’ve just read the DLA reform paper…

First thoughts were, why fix something that isn’t broken? According to the report, 9% of the population claim DLA. The Office Of disability Issues estimates that 10% of the population are disabled. I’m not sure if that 10% includes people like me (I’m guessing not, otherwise I imagine the number would potentially be higher. I’d perhaps argue that even though I’m covered by the DDA legally, I’m not ‘disabled’). So, assuming that it’s roughly correct the ‘right’ number of people seem to be claiming. There are people claiming who shouldn’t be, people trying to claim for ludicrous things and getting aggressive and abusive about it. However, this is a minority and is likely matched (if not exceeded by) the people who don’t claim, either because they don’t know about it or, (try telling the Daily Mail this) don’t want it.

Secondly, the way the paper is written makes it sound like all a claimant has to do is say they are disabled and they get a big fat handout. This is not the case. The vast majority of the paper states new measures that are already in place:

  • 6 month qualifying period? Yep
  • Assessment of what you can and can’t do? Yep
  • No process to check the award is correct? Yes there is, awards can be (and frequently are) fixed term (people can get better or learn to adjust- DLA is for needs arising from a disability, NOT from the disability itself)
  • Scored on a proxy of care needs and mobility needs (the report on one hand criticises this and on the other confirms PIP will have the same approach!)
  • Successful use of aids etc should be considered? Yes, DLA already does
  • Individuals responsible for reporting changes of circs? Yep

DLA isn’t inherently broken. Yes the process is difficult and the forms are a pain. But… it’s a self assessment benefit. The DWP need as much information as they can possibly gather. It needs to be accurate, it needs to be detailed and it needs to give a picture of what the person can do, can’t do, how they do things etc. I expect it is difficult to fill in and can be unpleasant but it’s necessary. The other way to do it is to have an assessment that seems to be deeply unpopular, costly and unnecessary.

The flip side of this is why do people find it difficult? Have DWP asked? Have they considered researching the issues and discussing possible solutions with disabled people and communication experts? Why not consider that?

Any money saved from not reforming the whole benefit but refining it could be spent where it is most needed, on educating people (both disabled and non disabled) that being disabled doesn’t make people useless or stupid; it just makes them approach tasks in a different way. So many people are amazed that a blind person can use a computer for example. Or that a blind person can navigate round a room or sit on their own without a sighted person following them round like they are made of glass. You can even talk to disabled people, you won’t catch their disability!

Some of the approaches of the reform are laudable- signposting people to further help and advise? Brilliant idea- why aren’t DWP doing it now?!  Making it more straight forward and easier to understand, yes yes yes! Again, this should be does as a routine lessons learned exercise as often as necessary.

With regard to being objective, then I imagine the process/assessment is. In fact its perhaps too impersonal. You are a file, a sheaf of paper. Do the DWP care that that sheaf of paper is sat on a shelf about to run out of payment? And its coming up to Christmas? And reducing or stopping that benefit impacts the other? No? Then why the hell not? This is a person’s life we are talking about!


Jan said...

Yep, hands up here as someone who could claim but doesn't. I live off sandwiches and my house is a sh*thole, but after the trauma of my erroneously denied IB last year (for post-traumatic stress - it caused a relapse) I'm too scared to draw more attention to myself.

Anonymous said...

I'm the author of the article and serious, if you believe you are entitled then you should claim. Take your time, do it properly and see what they say.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Read this

DeusExMacintosh said...

The use of "objective" so often is the giveaway... the intention is to remove the self-assessment basis in awarding a disability benefit. As I've explained on the BBC's Ouch! Messageboards...

The use of the word "objective" may be in its legal sense.

When damages are assessed they are usually assessed objectively. However, ONE type of damage "pain and suffering" is assessed subjectively in personal injuries matters.

"Subjective" criteria would be the the description of the pain and suffering experienced by the victim in his or her own words.

"Objective" criteria would be the description of the likely pain and suffering experienced by the victim by a third party, a "reasonable" non-specialist (yes, that man on the Clapham omnibus for example).

There would thus be no barrier to using OBJECTIVE presumptions about the nature of restrictions to the life of a disabled person caused by social model concerns (levels of physical adaptation for example) rather than consulting the SUBJECTIVE experience of the individual disabled person (details of accessibility in their particular work and/or living environment for example).

Personal case in point, there is an "accessible train" to my local FE college which means that I can access study. In actual fact accessibility has only been provided for wheelchairs, the scooter *I* own has been declared "too large" by train company staff who have also refused to let me use the bike space where it *WOULD* fit so I CAN'T in fact access study.

Allan said...

The 6 month qualifying period in place at the moment is for AA not DLA as this is only 3 month qualifying period and 6 Month prospective test