Monday, 4 April 2011

Whitewash: Government’s response to the consultation on Disability Living Allowance reform..

The Government’s response to the consultation on Disability Living Allowance reform has been published today, at long last. It is grossly unjust that the consultation itself closed after the Welfare Reform Bill was published, so that the consultation played no part in shaping the Bill, but it is probably not illegal.

The consultation response is a hefty document, and it seems that there were 5505 responses in total, including the joint submission by Carer Watch and The Broken of Britain to which hundreds of you contributed. Sadly, if predictably, this outpouring seems to have made very little difference to the Government's rhetoric. Annex 1 lists the actions suggested in responses and the Government's "next steps". These steps seem to involve "listening", "[recognising that] disabled people are experts in their own lives", "[continuing] to to work with disabled people", and plenty of buzzwords but very little in the way of detail.

The response begins with an empty foreword by Maria Miller, the Minister of Disabled People, who seems to think that the more often she repeats her message on the need for DLA reform, the likelier it is to become true. On the need for reform, the Government simply repeats the same cas that was demolished by The Broken of Britain in December. The information was included in our consultation submission, but the Government ignored it and repeated the same flawed case.

The disturbing thing is that this isn't all they have ignored. The question-by-question detail on consultation submission seems to suggest that the Government cherry-picked the responses that supported their "commitment" to reform, and ignored the rest. For example, the Government's response to the consultation submissions suggests that they "agree that Personal Independence Payment should remain a non-means-tested, non-taxable benefit that is paid to disabled people whether they are in or out of work." However, as means-testing was not proposed initially, whe spend space telling us what we already know?

On the design of the benefit, the Government response runs for only half a page. Two quotes are shared: one supporting reform, and one refusing to comment without detail. Surely there were other responses? The Broken of Britain raised the point that simplifying the benefit by reducing the number of rates would mean that PIP was less able to adapt to circumstance, as more rates meant a greater number of combinations that could adapt to the claimant's need. However, the Government says that most organisations are happy, and repeats its rhetoric on "simplification".

On issues where opinion was split down the middle, or slightly opposed to the Government's proposal, such as on extending the qualifying period and automatic entitlement, the Government listened to what people said. And then responded by saying they'd stick to their original proposals. The same thing can be noted in the Government response on face-to-face assessment - faced with the arguments, they resorted to saying that "we believe that, for the great majority of people, a face-to-face consultation between the individual and a trained independent assessor will play a key role in creating a fairer, objective and more transparent assessment for Personal Independence Payment than that which currently exists under DLA."

And on issues where there was strong feeling against the Government's proposals, such as on the consideration of aids and adaptations in PIP assessment? Again, they will do what they had originally planned because "we wish to target support to those disabled people who are least able to participate and to live independently". When the Government makes policy because they "believe" or "wish" something, what is the point of consultation? Whither evidence-based policy?

That must then be the initial conclusion: this consultation response is a whitewash, from beginning to end. A detailed breakdown and analysis of the response will appear on the blog very soon.

16 comments:

Sue Marsh said...

however predictable it is, it's still enormously disappointing.

But we must remember that it IS predictable. This was only ever a stage towards winning and I think everyone involved knows where the battle for hearts and minds is being won.

Anonymous said...

It was shocking how little referred to the consultation. It was almost as if the response was written without actually reading the public opinions.

Sue Marsh said...

But when all of these things blow up in their faces, we will have every last scrap of evidence to prove that they knew all along and they ignored every word.

Sam Barnett-Cormack said...

I'm going to read it this evening, but I trust your summary. This is disappointing, even if it is unsurprising. You'd think they'd at least want to create a convincing impression of having taken feedback on board, rather than effectively saying "we understand what you're upset about, but we're going to ignore you anyway".

Bill Kruse said...

Their overconfidence is such they have less and less interest in observing,or being seen to observe, any kind of appropriate behaviour. They're trying to get away with doing anything they want and aren't bothering to hide it. Either that, or they're increasingly desperate. Both would explain what's heppening, withthis and with stuff like the NHS reforms going ahead unlawfully. They don't appear bothered with law and order at all.

Adrian said...

Quite clearly a whitewash-the lies and distortions continued unabated-cherry picked quotations cited as evidence for need for reduced support-cynical,disingenuous treating people as fools-we have listened re.mobility allowance for residents-how come the red book mentions savings HIGHER than this supposed change of mind-Carers allowance eligibility not outlined with the intention possibly to sever the tie with the new PIP?Farcical,disingenuous-shameful.

Sam Barnett-Cormack said...

Read the whole thing now, and written long email to my MP about it, asking him to pass on the bill committee if that's possible...

Also included a note that, if he passes it on to Maria Miller again, please note that I have read most of their releases and the whole response, so I don't need tracts of them repeated to me again like last time...

xxxJoolsxxx said...

What the hell are we supposed to do now then? How can we get this to make the news so people can see what is really happening?

Jan said...

Thanks. Good on you, Sam, we've got to keep on at them.

I think Sue is right, at least they can't say we didn't warn them. And the publicity got out of OMBH was worth it.

Anonymous said...

My life is over - Maria Miller is scum - she is not FOR disabled people - she is totally against and I hate this entire govt for their awful treatment of the weakest in society

Anonymous said...

That whole 'consultation' was a farce - This and the ESA atos kak is totally against human rights - WHY do disabled people not have the right to a life? Why do we have to fight and waste precious spoons because this govt only care for their eton pals whoown millions - If the people in this country all actually cared and didnt believe the crap in the mail - The should ALL go on strike and refuse to work and see how long it lasts till this Govt see that disabled people are NOT SCUM. This was not a bloody lifestyle choice and DLA used to make me think that somebody cared - and now this godforsaked woman who is supposed to be FOR disabled people is telling a heap of lies and everyone believes her and its a load of crap. People like myself and others will now end up on the streets after amazingly ATOS have sudenly decided we are not disabled - so obviously we are cured and now we wont have any help at all. Why dont they just friggin gas me - they have taken my whole self worht away and all independance i thought i had.

Thanks Maria Thanks Cameron - You really showed me how little i mean in this world

Helly Copeland said...

Even a sentence as simple as the following sends shivers down my spine.. "we believe that, for the great majority of people, a face-to-face consultation between the individual and a trained independent assessor will play a key role in creating a fairer, objective and more transparent assessment for Personal Independence Payment than that which currently exists under DLA."

A trained independent assessor aka someone trained in data entry.. If they want to make these changes then I at least want someone who is trained to know the full in's and out's of my condition...

Maria Miller - Minister for Disabled... I truly would love to see things from her point of view but I can't seem to get my head that far up my ass.

Anonymous said...

I agree - I want someone who is trained in more than pressing the right (or wrong as the case will be) buttons.

I want specialists!
Why do we go to our NHS specialists and theirt word is whats right when suddenly some jumped up litle squirt from ATOS can call my specialist a liar and deem me sudenly well again? Is this Govt then saying that their specialists in the NHS are all liars and wrong?

I bet ATOS are rubbing their dirty little hands together and grinning with their grotty little faces smiling cos they see their bank balance improving off the backs of the sick.

Maria Miller shoudl be ashamed of herself - This whole Govt should all be ashamed - And all should bethrown out and left penniless - Let them see what it is like to live with nothing!

I now fear life will end when this sdtarts if the stress is like this now - How will i possibly survive when they deem my incurable illness sudenly fine again? And I KNOW they will - because trhats how ATOS have been told to play the game

Mozza said...

Guys - this is NOT the end of the world... We all knew what to expect and, for those not yet in the know, this govt will not survive another 4 years so all is not lost... I am quite a newcomer to this group but some of the comments are causing concern to this former health professional. THIS is what they are trying to do - divide & conquor - an old military trick. Cause as much distress as possible and people will cave in... So, we will NOT cave in. We have each other, we have Kaliya and Rhydian - 2 great experts - and there is a great deal being done that cannot yet be revealed in public so this is not as bad as it seems. It was predicatable, this group have forgotten more about disability than Freud will ever know and Miller is a joke. Watch this space as this govt will not last much longer.... Mo xx

muffie02 said...

well mozza one can only hope you are correct in you assertions - in the mean time i will be gathering evidence and proof to support my appeal ( yep i bet it will get to that ) - and i would strongly advise that any one on DLA does like wise - evidence is what will see you through this - not some hope this bunch of uncaring government tosspots will be ousted before the need arises - as i have always said -BETTER TO HAVE SOMETHING AND NOT NEED IT - THAN NEED IT AND NOT HAVE IT

ATOS will still BE THERE even if the tory/lib lot get kicked out -ever heard of the word "contracts "

Mozza said...

Yes thanks. After 2 years research I know a lot about the contract and much more than most who quote it badly in the Commons - it is now confirmed in writing that the govt never have "audited" the contract, as often claimed by the PM, and contracts can be altered and contractors can be held to account when it is demonstrated that they have breached the contract because no-one is really monitoring them.