Friday, 10 December 2010

Robin's submission to the DWP

I am very interested in how the changes will affect me, and people like me that have some need for support, but aren't very obviously (visibily) disabled, and have changed our lives to work within limitations.

I currently work three days a week, and DLA enables me to work part-time. I can't work full time because my impairment leaves me fatigued, and I need the four days of not working to balance rest and housework. Were I to not be on DLA I wouldn't be able to afford to work part time.

When I manage my energy levels, I need little support, but as soon as I use up my energy supply I cease to be able to care for myself, lose the capacity for speech, and struggle to leave my flat.

The support I require (and get) is mostly informal, from friends. I also use my DLA to pay for things like proper food (so I stay healthy), and odd costs. For example, I am Dyspraxic, and seem to wear out clothes very quickly, possibly because I bash into thing / rub against surfaces / trip over more often than a non-disabled person might. Because of sensory sensitivity I am very particular about the textures of clothes I wear. This means it can be hard for me to find clothes that are sturdy and comfortable, and I have a more limited range to choose from meaning I often can't find clothes in places like Primark.

I find point 19 on page 10 "DLA is widely perceived to be an out-of-work benefit and receiving it appears to reduce the likelihood of being in employment, even after allowing for the impact of health conditions or impairments." a rediculous reason to be changing a benefit. If public perception of a benefit is wrong, you work to change the perception, not the benefit! The reason many people see it as an out of work benefit (which, disgustingly, seemed to include some politicians) is the media reports it as such, and no one seems to challenge that.

DLA means people like me CAN work. It supports us in work, and my being in work means I need more support than if I were sitting at home all day.

As for "There is evidence that people who receive DLA have lower work expectations."  this isn't because of DLA, it's because of the challenges faced when seeking work as a disabled person! When I was looking for work it had to be local or involve a straight-forward journey of no more than an hour (ideally less), had to be part-time (three days a week maximum), not involve shift work, be in a small office with good acoustics, not involve a lot of "team work", and not require me to have a degree, as my impairment interfered with my ability to access a university education. I don't think these restrictions are atypical amongst disabled people, but work that meets our needs is hard to find.

I need to read the document in small chunks, and will email further comments as I get through it.

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