Saturday 11 December 2010

Step 3 of the Write-in Campaign to Stop DLA Reform - Write to the PM

Step 3 is to write to the PM. You can do this on which has a form to do so. Unfortunately, the form is 1000 characters only, so I've produced a cut down message. Other steps are to contact members of the Cabinet and the Shadow Cabinet by changing one of the other templates posted. You can contact them at their addresses - only the PM has the webform.

Dear Prime Minister,

This e-mail is for your information. I will contact other Ministers in separately.

I am writing to urge you to instruct the Minister for Disabled People to recall the Public Consultation on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) reform, and to cease work on reform of this benefit, due to serious flaws in the consultation paper. As such, the consultation questions are deeply skewed and any answers will be likely to support wholesale reform. This is both unfair and unwise, and will cause hardship for many disabled people. Read a fuller argument at

I strongly advise you withdraw these policies. I hope that you will not construe this as a threat, but I suggest that you remember that there are 11 million disabled people in the UK. Our voting intentions will be strongly influenced by the fate of DLA. Remember also that the Conservatives fought the election on a pledge to protect DLA.

Step 1 of the Write-in Campaign to Stop DLA Reform Revisited - Write to Maria Miller MP

Some constructive criticism has led me to revisit the letter to Maria Miller MP, producing a simpler template letter as a distilled version of the earlier one. The big letter is still online -and you are all welcome to use it - but below is a simple version for you to edit and post and e-mail. Remember to cc: your MP:

Maria Miller MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Disabled People
Department for Work and Pensions
1st Floor
Caxton House
Tothill Street

Dear Maria Miller,

Re: Disability Living Allowance reform

I am writing to urge you, as Minister for Disabled People, to recall the Public Consultation on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) reform, and to cease work on reform of this benefit, due to serious flaws in the consultation paper. As such, the consultation questions are deeply skewed and any answers will be likely to support wholesale reform. This is both unfair and unwise, and will cause hardship for many disabled people.

Your case for reform has been criticized, and then completely demolished, by the various disability rights groups fighting reform. They accuse the DWP of building their argument without sufficient evidence, and I am inclined to agree. The claims that DLA can act as a barrier to work, in particular, are robustly questioned. Questions are also raised concerning the accuracy of the representation of supporting data.

Most devastating to your case for reform is the critique of proposed amendments, leading one to ask whether augmenting DLA might not be a better, cheaper way of improving employment opportunities, rather than launching an entirely new benefit. It would seem that the costs of such rebranding are only justified when savings are made by cutting the DLA caseload by 20%. This figure is, in and of itself, questionable – how is it possible to know that this many people can be removed?

The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) appears to be a case of cuts dressed as positive reform. Disability rights groups and charities have uniformly condemned the proposals, warning of dire consequences. The list of those affected includes: people who are mobile with aids; people with disabilities so severe that they are unable to be very active; care home residents; those who receive local authority care packages. Most other disabled people will suffer through needless reassessments upon the introduction of PIP, and re-testing every few years even when a condition cannot be treated.

There is a strong feeling amongst people with disabilities that the Coalition Government have declared war on us, with a continual ratcheting of pressure on us since the Emergency Budget in June 2010. Announcements on Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, and Disability Living Allowance have made us feel that the Government is scapegoating us and removing the support on which we depend. Iain Duncan-Smith’s comments to The Sun newspaper [01/12/2010) suggesting that Incapacity Benefit claimants were partly to blame for a large fiscal deficit caused by a recession, a bail-out of the banks and quantitative easing. The only way that you can convince people with disabilities that you are not hostile towards us is to halt the current process DLA Reform. Whilst there may be ways to improve DLA, they do not involve replacing it with a new benefit, and neither do they involve removing anyone from the claimant caseload.

I am sending a copy of this by post, and expect your prompt personal reply with distinct reference to each and every point I have made. I am forwarding copies to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. I am also forwarding this letter to [your MP] who represents my constituency. I am sure my MP will read it with great interest, and I know that he will wish to raise a number of searching Parliamentary questions regarding the conduct of DWP during the compilation of the DLA reform consultation paper. I await your reply.

Yours sincerely,

[your name]

cc: [your MP]

Step 2 of the Write-in Campaign to Stop DLA Reform - Write to Your MP

When you send a letter to Maria Miller MP, the Minister for Disabled People, with a copy to your MP, it is a good idea to send a separate letter to your MP. Some readers will be experienced at this kind of thing, but many of you may be new to campaigning or may not have the time or energy (spoons) to write. For that reason, we have designed a template letter. You are welcome to modify it or just send as is, substituting your MP's name of course! You can find names and addresses at Get writing:

Dear [your MP],

Re: Disability Living Allowance reform

I write to express my concern about the proposed reforms to DLA. A Public Consultation was launched by DWP on the 6th of December on the subject of these reforms, the scale of which surprised many disability rights campaigners. After all, the Conservatives fought the election on a pledge to retain DLA, and seemed to broadly maintain this stance in their October 2010 conference – yet we now learn that DLA will be abolished in 2013-14, and replaced by the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The case for drastic reform of the DLA has not been made, and the reasoning given in the consultation paper is weak and based on flawed evidence, as argued in this article by disability rights group The Broken of Britain. Moreover, the proposals for the new benefit are harsh, and disability groups and charities have rushed to condemn the proposals.

I urge you to read all the material on the internet – but ignored by the mainstream media in the midst of student protests – and to oppose these changes which are cuts dressed up as positive reforms. It is important that these cuts face immediate parliamentary scrutiny and that this scrutiny continues whilst parliament is in recess.

Yours sincerely,

[your name]
Elaine's message to the Minister for Disability - YouTube Video

"been thinking about writing a letter after the declaration the disabled are not sustainable...and the fact she doesn't know what the impact will be. They don't seem to have a clue of the real misery it has caused many people, the suicidal feelings, attempts or planning. The abject misery of living in poverty with ill health and the fact people learn to laugh at it in their way of coping with the awfulness of it. I learnt to laugh about my acne and the nearly dying stuff when I first became too ill to properly function most of the time.

I've learnt to laugh about my predicaments the malnutrition, the rapes, the feeling abused by the system, for me to be able to not go totally demoralised and in need of ending my misery. I can compose myself takes a lot out of me and i have to laze about for a long time after, relaxing through the pain so I don't have to take medications that further challenge my body to function well enough to self care, psychologically at times it has made me wonder if the struggle is worth it. Although I have found ways through meditation to find bliss and let go of the pain that my body is in and my mind. I have kept positive and I am proud that I have survived this. Poverty is indeed a violent act to mete out on a person....especially when that person has no resource to fend for themselves enough to sustain themselves, not through lack of trying but through lack of adequate care when they are vulnerable.

I've just shared this on facebook it is the early hours of Thursday 9th December, 2010. 02.50 to be precise I have some roving pain and am going to try to sleep now. I have been able to a little better the last couple of nights..I am learning not to keep focus on things I can't do anything about, no matter how unpleasant or difficult they are...I guess being raped and dealing with the emotional backlash of that has been like training to get through this....I don't manage so well sometimes..."

Kate's writing a book about the cuts, can you help?

Dear BofB'ers, we have been contacted by a journalist who is writing a book about the coalition's cuts. The strongest argument we have against the cuts is to publicise the fact they affect all of us, not the scroungers they are supposedly targeted towards. If you are willing to be interviewed for Kate's book please email us at and we'll forward your details to Kate. 
Thanks, Kaliya 

From Kate;

Here is an outline of my project:

I'll be spending December and January travelling around the UK and
interviewing people for a book that I'm writing about the coalition
government's proposed public
sector funding cuts.

I generally write case studies - so, interview-based pieces where
people speak their situations for themselves, following the sort of
format of some of the pieces I've written (I've pasted links to some
of my recent work below). The book will be a collection of these
stories. I'll be publishing some online along the way as well, with
video where that's appropriate. I'll also be travelling with a

So far, I've arranged interviews with Sure Start users, people who use
some housing support, people who are involved in education and the NHS
- quite a broad range of people across income groups and in different
parts of the country. My aim is to return to people later next year to
see how they're coming along and to do follow-up pieces from there.

I'd be more than happy to come and talk to anyone in your group who
would like to be involved, or who may just want further information in
the first instance, so please feel free to circulate this.

Best regards,


Recent Guardian contributions:

Friday 10 December 2010

Write-in Campaign to Stop DLA Reform

This is a link to my letter to Maria Miller, Minister for Disabled People, on the subject of DLA reform. It's too big to post on here, but all disability blogs and sites are welcome to take it and run with it. Anybody wanting to send their own letter is welcome to snip bits from mine and paste it in their own letter. The students are getting all the attention and DLA reform is being brushed under the rug. Let's get the Minister for Disabled People, and our MPs, snowed in by letters so that we are not forgotten.

Just remember to put your own address on it, and cc: to your own MP. This is a very long letter - be warned - at 5 A4 pages. Some of the criticisms are personal to me depending on my degree in mathematics, so you may want to replace those points with your own. My own copy has just been e-mailed last night and posted this morning. If possible, I suggest that you post and e-mail too. Some MPs are very good at reading e-mails, some aren't, and Government ministers are awful. Remember to write to your MP too - I will put up a template for that shortly - and send them a copy of the letter you send to Maria Miller.

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.

Thursday 9 December 2010

Demolition Of The Case For DLA Reform

Maria Miller, Minister for Disabled People, should immediately recall the Public Consultation on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) reform, and cease work on reform of this benefit. This should be done because the reasons given for DLA reform are not robust, with little evidence to support the case for reform and, importantly, no independent academic research. The use of the word ‘little’ refers to the two pieces of internal DWP papers used as evidence to build the entire case for reform – a footnote for one reference appears twice on consecutive pages. Thus the case for reform falls apart upon even cursory examination. As such, the consultation questions are deeply skewed and any answers will be likely to support wholesale reform. This is both unfair and unwise, and will cause hardship for many disabled people.

The wildest claim to support reform is that ‘evidence suggests that DLA can also act as a barrier to work’. This passage is footnoted, referring to “Disability Living Allowance and work: Exploratory research and evidence review, 2010, DWP Research Report No. 648” (RR No.648). This report also finds that “he main factor affecting the employment rates of disabled people is their disability or health condition” and that “a larger than average proportion of DLA recipients also appears to be affected by the specific types of impairment that carry the greatest employment disadvantage for disabled people” – yet these findings are not reported in the consultation paper, thus skewing discussion.

In fact, though the report claims that there exists a “perception of disability permanently precluding work is prevalent among individuals with disabilities not already in employment”, there is no evidence cited in the report that suggests DLA could be a barrier to work. The section and all references to it in the consultation paper could be interpreted as an attempt to misdirect, and should be removed forthwith. Further, it should be noted that the consultation commits the statistical crime of confusing correlation with causation. Whilst RR No. 648 does provide evidence that low employment is correlated with claiming of DLA, this in no way implies that one causes the other.

It could be suggested that the lack of evidence pointing to a need for reform has meant that misdirection was used in an attempt to convince the public that DLA reform is necessary. In particular, the graphs presented as Figure 1 and 2, on page 8 of the consultation paper, used to show the DLA caseload increasing at an alarming rate, are flawed in many ways, not least in the fact that no baseline is established for when take-up of DLA by people with disabilities plateaued after its introduction in 1992/93. There are further issues regarding the number of Pensioners as the report ignores demographic trends to show that there is a dramatic increase in claims by people over State Pension age. This is particularly questionable since a Pensioners’ eligibility for DLA would usually depend on their receipt of DLA prior to this – otherwise, they would be eligible for Attendance Allowance. This is not made explicit in the consultation paper.

Figure 2 is also misleading as it could be read carelessly as showing that 8% of the population claim DLA. I am loath to interpret this as intentional misdirection but it is, at the very least, a sloppy drawing of graphs. Another example of sloppiness is the first sentence of paragraph 15 of the first chapter, on page 7 of the consultation paper, reading “In just eight years, the numbers receiving DLA has increased by 30 per cent.” This sentence is utterly meaningless and a misuse of statistics although, once again, I do not wish to interpret this negatively. Yet another example of the spurious use of statistics is Table 1 on Page 9 which presents the “Distribution of current caseload by rate combination”. This table appears between two paragraphs – 16 and 17 – arguing that the current system is too complex and the benefit is not understood. This is an odd, and potentially misleading, place for this data to be displayed.

Beyond misuse of statistics, sloppy presentation of data and lack of evidence, there are further points to be queried. Whilst RR No. 648 does give evidence that DLA is complex and not understood by all claimants, as suggested in paragraph 19 on page 10, this is surely grounds for improving the current system rather than expensively replacing it with an entirely new one. Likewise the assertion, in paragraph 18 of page 9, that there is no system to check that rewards remain correct. The statement that “Two-thirds of people currently on DLA have an indefinite award, which means that their award may continue for life without ever being checked to see if it still reflects their needs” is a rhetorical tautology. Indefinite awards are given to claimants with conditions that will not improve. Whilst it is not unreasonable that medical advances in the treatment of a certain condition should prompt re-evaluation of those cases, this could be achieved by augmenting DLA rather than replacing it.

The core argument of the consultation paper is that DLA is a benefit not fit for purpose. Paragraph 9 on page 6 of the consultation paper states that: “DLA is a benefit that provides a cash contribution towards the extra costs of needs arising from an impairment or health condition.” The arguments presented in paragraphs 14 and 15 of page 8, claiming that the benefit is not fit for purpose, do not touch upon the original purpose of DLA or offer any argument as to why it is failing to meet its original purpose. The information presented is that the DLA caseload and expenditure is a “lot more than was originally expected” and the aforementioned misuse of statistics on the increase in DLA claims. No arguments are presented as to why this means that DLA is not fit for purpose. The only way an argument can be construed is to look at the issue with a preconceived idea that there is an acceptable level of DLA claims prior to evaluating the health and impairment of claimants.

Finally, paragraph 2 betrays this preconception by stating: “We believe that now is the right time to reform DLA”, yet offers no qualification or reasoning for this belief. Paragraph 3 continues by saying that: “We must ensure that our resources are focused on those with the greatest need”, with no qualification or definition of the term “greatest need”. This could be pointed to as a suggestion that those with “lesser needs” will have to struggle unsupported with their impairment, and that the definition of needs is at the whim of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

The arguments above demolish the case for reform presented in the consultation paper, dealing with each point made in the consultation paper. It raises serious questions about the competence of the Minister responsible and the Secretary of State that a consultation paper for reform has been based on such a shocking lack of evidence, preconceptions about benefit claims and abuse of accepted statistical methodology.

Rhydian Fôn James (mathematician and economist)

Ms H Cushion's Story

In June of this year the monitoring of 18 week NHS operations waiting list times was removed by the Coalition. It was revealed by the health professionals Pulse Magazine yesterday (source: ) that  by September, the number of patients waiting for more than 18 weeks for their operations had jumped by 15%. 

I have personal experience of this, having waited for 25 weeks for foot surgery, finally removing myself from the waiting list after finding another surgeon to treat me.  In March of this year I was diagnosed with Hallux Rigidus (arthritis of the big toe joint) at the Luton & Dunstable Hospital and added to their waiting list for a chilectomy (bone shave).  Just five weeks later I was offered the opportunity to have the operation at a private hospital as the waiting time was going to surpass the Government's 18 week target. In order to meet their targets I could be treated by the middle of May. By this time however there was serious doubt that the chilectomy would solve my mobility and pain problems so I advised the waiting list registrar that I had a re-assessment in June and she agreed to post-pone the private operation until the results were through. 
Having seen a consultant on the 1st of June who was happy for me to go ahead with the chilectomy, I again contacted the waiting list office.  Imagine my shock and dismay to be told that as the 18 week waiting time was not now crucial to them, following the removal of the monitoring, my private operation was no longer an option and I would remain on the waiting list indefinitely.  By this stage I had been waiting for 10 weeks and my pain was increasing and mobility decreasing.  In April I had been signed off sick from work as I could no longer perform my duties as a home carer.
From the middle of July I have spent most of my days in an armchair, unable now to stand or walk for more than a few minutes.  In September, following a second opinion consultation with a different surgeon, I removed myself from the waiting list, having waited for 25 weeks. I was now due to have both feet treated and as I had waited for so long, the damage had increased to such an extent that the operations would now include joint replacement and stabilisation.  However, following an administration error, I was discharged by the new surgeon!  Finally, last week I was back in surgeon B's chair being assessed.. I left his office with a date for surgery, X-Ray and pre-op appointments.  I will finally have my (now far more scary) operation on my right foot on 4th January, my now deteriorated left foot will be addressed once I am able to weight bear on my right. 
I am certain that had I been treated within 18 weeks, not only would the operations I am now facing not be as severe or expensive but I could also have kept my job (I was *released from my contract* in November).  Next year is filled with nervous anticipation for me, the recovery times for the surgery are long and painful and I am facing eviction from my home as my contract here terminates on the 28th of December.  Another legacy of the Coalition government's new policies is that I cannot rent privately again as I am now unemployed and the letting agent's insurance companies will no longer take a risk on benefits claimants. 
So please be upstanding for our Coalition.. well, you go ahead without me, as I cant. 
Note from BofB: We are committed to being a non party political campaign. We do not censor the stories sent in to us, the political opinions in this story are those of the author.

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!

Tuesday 7 December 2010

The Broken Of Britain Response To DLA Reform Consultation

The coalition government have continued slowly turning the screws on disabled people, a task started by the previous government.  Harsh cuts to existing benefits and services announced through an eager media have created a climate of fear for Britain’s disabled people.  Despite that, when finally announced, the changes to Disability Living Allowance were sweeping in a way some had feared but not expected.  D L A will cease to exist in 2013-14, replaced by the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).  PIP is supposed to be simpler than DLA, although much of the perceived complexity is due to a wider lack of understanding of the nature of disability.  In this context, what simpler really means is cheaper – especially as the plans are to cut 20% of the DLA caseload.  This cut will be needed to pay for incredibly costly reassessments to people with conditions with no hope of recovery such as quadriplegia or degenerative genetic diseases.  There is a clear indicator of intent to limit entitlement in the words ‘focusing on those with greatest support needs’

Some people may lose money as the aids and adaptations they use enabling them to live with their disability will be considered to negate the need for that financial support.  The new system will lead to situations where wheelchair-users who can get around themselves may be denied support, even though the intention of the present DLA system is to help towards extra costs of mobility and care.  This approach ignores the fact that benefits may be the only thing enabling the purchase of adaptations such as wheelchairs or use of taxis for those unable to use public transport.  In any case, aids and adaptations depend on availability with long waiting lists for appropriate wheelchairs.  Many disabled people, including this author, fall through the gaps of the provision in the current system and thus are much more significantly disabled by their environment than impairment.

This change will be an unnecessary and expensive rebranding exercise.  Although the caseload will be reduced PIP will still look very much like DLA albeit with a 21st century name  at a time when government spending, is supposedly, being squeezed.  The current system also allows for automatic entitlement to DLA for certain conditions.  The new system will not; all claimants will be required to be reassessed every few years.  This is not only foolish, but also costly as automatically entitled conditions are by nature the most severe and incurable.  The only thing that will be achieved is extra cost of unnecessary assessment, additional complication instead of simplification and inconvenience for severely ill people.  Additional waste comes from ignoring the reality that people will remain disabled and have needs even if they are no longer able to qualify for benefits.  They will be ignored up to the point they become seriously ill and end up costing the NHS and local authorities more in terms of hospitals and residential care.  Furthermore, the proposed reforms ignore the fact that some conditions are severe but acute.  Not supporting short-term illness and disability makes it more likely this will become a costly long-term problem therefore increasing dependency.

The PIP proposals will see some current recipients of social care losing financial benefits now paid over at least in part to the local authorities for receipt of that care.  This will force local authorities to make up the shortfall in funding likely achievable through cutting care packages.  Another hole in the recommendations made is the impact of these plans on independent living, making that harder to achieve.  Removing DLA from those who receive care packages, and especially recipients in residential care, will not promote independence.

This system will use independent assessment to form an objective assessment although it is not known why the DLA assessment is understood to not be objective.  Current practice is to be assessed by a variety of resources; information from family or a carer, the persons GP, specialist consultant or physiotherapist are standard with face- to-face medical assessments if these and more do not provide enough evidence.  What independent means is that a private company such as Atos will be contracted to run assessments and offered incentives to remove people from the system, as they already do with work related benefits.  This process will include meeting with an independent healthcare professional not necessarily qualified as a doctor-working for the assessors similarly to the already problematic Employment Support Allowance (ESA) system.  The objections to a private company (foreign-owned) using unqualified staff who know their jobs depend on keeping to strict targets with the sole goal being to reduce benefits are too many to count.

More important is the question of whether it is ever possible to make a truly objective assessment of disability.  Disability is, by its very nature, as complex and variable as human beings and influenced by many different factors.  What severely disables one person may not be such a significant barrier to another, yet both will require tailored support to enable them.

The focus on DLA as a disincentive to work is false and disingenuous.  People who receive DLA do often have lower work expectations as the reform consultation paper suggests, and rightly so.  Regardless of desire, many disabilities and conditions make work impossible.  Disabled people are often unable to compete equally in the labour market, even if there is work for them, which too often there is not.  People with high rate awards have highest level of disabilities and are least likely to be able to work regardless of benefits.  Those who do work and with lower awards are often only able to work because of the aids, support and adaptations DLA allows them to purchase.  The focus on move to work has no place in a discussion about DLA other than to make the important clarification that DLA is not work related and exists to assist life with a disability.