Thursday, 12 May 2011

The Mobility Component and The Liberal Democrats

The Hardest Hit March yesterday was a relative success, but there were three issues that were either ignored or published too late.

The first was EDM 1791 tabked by Anass Sarwar MP:

That this House believes that it is the sign of a responsible society that it supports disabled people to lead an independent and fulfilling life; further believes that, while reform is needed, the Government’s current plans are causing unnecessary uncertainty and creating risks for disabled people up and down the country; further believes that the Government has failed to appreciate the cumulative impact of the changes it is proposing; further believes that ill-thought through reform of disability benefits could push thousands of disabled people into poverty; considers it irresponsible to time limit to one year the payment of contributory employment and support allowance which will affect people suffering from cancer and fluctuating conditions; calls on the Government to abandon plans to remove the mobility component of disability living allowance from 80,000 people in residential care homes; further calls on the Government to retain automatic entitlement for people who have severe impairments, meaning that blind people, the mentally impaired and double amputees will not have to face the distress of applying for support that they genuinely need; expresses serious concern that 100,000 families with disabled children will see their support halved as a result of the decision to replace the disability element of child tax credit; and further believes that disabled people should have to wait only three months rather than six months before they can apply for the new personal independence payment.

This is an apparently well-meaning Early Day Motion, but is a bit weak on detail and demonstrates that it is not just the Government who need a refresher course in disability.You should ask your MP to sign this EDM, but ask them to support the stronger EDM? 1756 at the same time.

Another news story that became apparent was that the Liberal Democrats have broken yet another promise. More accurately, they voted with the Government on the Welfare Reform Bill Committee to remove the mobility component from claimants in residential care, despite a motion on opposing restrictions to mobility component at the Spring Conference. I have touched upon this story before, but had to wait for the Hansard records of the meeting to be published.

As these records show, the Liberal Democrat MPs Ian Swales and Jenny Willott actually left the room when this issue was put to vote, meaning that the amendment tabled to oppose the Government's plans was defeated. Liberal Democrat members should hold their MPs to account for this further betrayal. The records also show that the ridiculous Jenny Willott had stooped to the level of voting against one of her own amendments, presumably in order not to upset Government whips.

The final story is regarding Maria Miller's interview on BBC Breakfast yesterday. Having swallowed a copy of the Daily Mail with her breakfast cereal, Ms. Miller said: "Well, it can't be right that we have a benefits system where, under DLA, more people who are either alcoholics or drug addicts are in receipt of the higher rate of disability allowance than people who are blind".

The real figures are:

DLA - 0-15 age group

Blindness - 5,300
Alcohol & Drug Abuse - 100

DLA - 16 - 64 age group

Blindness - 45,800
Alcohol & Drug Abuse - 20,900

DLA - over 65 age group

Blindness - 18,900
Alcohol & Drug Abuse - 2,000

The only reason that alcoholics and drug addicts are eligible for the higher rates is due to underlying behavioural problems or that the substance abuse has caused physical damage, and that up until last month blind people were not eligible for the higher rate of mobility. This may have been an honest mistake, but the Minister has seriously misled the public whether by design or not.


Mason Dixon, Autistic said...

Egads, I blogged about those very figures. Can't believe I didn't notice she was utterly wrong.

Anonymous said...

Is this interview on Youtube? I'd like to blog it if I can.

Mason Dixon, Autistic said...

*Deleted post is mine, I made a boob.*

Ok just had a brain-fart, I remember investigating when Maria Miller first used this talking point during Work and Pensions Question Time in Parliament a few weeks back. A turn of events that left the family being way to disruptive for me to function well enough meant I missed the chance and I've just remembered.

Ok, using Rhydian's link takes us the to ad hoc analysis page on the DWP site. Most people look at the March 17th document 'DLA Term of award by disabling condition and age group - August 2010'. Ignore that. Go instead to February 25th for 'DLA caseloads by the level of care and mobility components and disabling condition'. This is the table that Maria Miller thinks she was reading properly; it has the same data as the other one but lists the rates rather than the age groups.

The higher rate Care figures for Blindness, Deaf and alcohol/drug addictions are:

Blindness: 5,100

Deafness: 1,300

Drug/Alcohol addiction(together!): 3,400

Below that table is the one for Mobility, here's where it gets interesting; the higher rate figures are:

Blindness: 7,100

Deafness: 2,300

Drug/Alcohol Addictions: 9,100

So Maria Miller cherry-picked higher-rate Mobility because it was the one figure among loads where she could score a pretty empty rhetorical point. In all fairness though the table lumps the separate issues of drug addiction and alcohol addiction together, so we should stick Deafness and Blindness together and compare higher-rates:


Deaf/Blind: 9,400

Drug/Alcohol: 9,100


Deaf/Blind: 6,400

Drug/Alcohol: 3,400

Adrian said...

aaaaaa testing

Mason Dixon, Autistic said...

I don't know if anyone saw my post. I found the figures that Maria Miller was using but the Blogger still haven't restored the missing posts. If they haven't done so by Monday I will re-post the figures.

Anonymous said...

what figures are those mason? Different to the ones Rhydian has posted?

Mason Dixon, Autistic said...

Yes, they are from the table that Miller was actually using, which are 'correct'. But she was being extremely selective which in my mind doesn't mean she made a mistake: she very deliberately set out to mis-lead and often says 'more addicts claim DLA' or 'more addicts claim higher-ate DLA' or 'more addicts claim Mobility DLA' rather than her single correct version which is:

'more addicts claim higher-rate Mobility DLA than Blind and Deaf people'.

If you take out either 'higher-rate' or 'Mobility', the claim is completely false. You have to be very specific, meaning her use of it can only be deliberate. Yet, even then her claim is only true because drug and alcohol addicts are being lumped together and Deaf and Blind people are being considered separately. If you compare 'drug and alcohol addicts' with 'Blind AND Deaf' claimants however the figure is:

Drug/alcohol: 9,100

Deaf/Blind: 9,400