- The Government’s response to the consultation on Disability Living Allowance reform was been published on the 4th of April, 2011.
- The consultation itself closed after the Welfare Reform Bill was published on the 16th of February, so that the consultation played no part in shaping the Bill.
- This brief offers an analysis of the Government’s response to the core issues of DLA reform, rather than the process issues of PIP.
- However, the concluding remarks apply generally.
- There were 5505 responses in total, including nearly 2500 individual responses, 500 from organisations.
- The Government say that “To supplement the consultation document we held a series of meetings with disability organisations at Ministerial and official level, and attended events with disabled people and their organisations,” but do not give any detail as to when these meetings were held and who was present.
- The consultation begins with a foreword by the Minister for Disabled People in which she repeats the arguments that she presented during Work and Pensions Question Time in Parliament on the 28th of March, 2011.
- The document’s executive summary reaffirms the Government’s “commitment” to reform, howeverIn the chapter n the need for reform, the Government simply repeats the same case that was demolished by The Broken of Britain in December1, and evidence that 71% of caseload growth in the past 8 years can be explained2 by population growth and demographic change, whilst an explosion in quarterly on-flows can be ruled out for the rest of the increase, and that It is not true that there is no system to ensure that rewards remain correct as, since 2000, legislation has required that all awards are subject to review after an appropriate period of time based on an individual’s circumstances.3
- In the chapter on the need for reform, the Government presents no supporting arguments from independent research, DWP Research Reports or DWP Working Papers.
- The question-by-question detail on consultation submission seems to suggest that the Government cherry-picked the responses that supported their "commitment" to reform.
- Question 1 and 3 asked what barriers and extra costs were faced by disabled people. Responses to the questions appear to have listed the wide range of barriers and costs face. The Government responds by using this lack of consensus to say that: “The principle of improving outcomes and giving people more choice and control over the services they receive [...] underpins all the health and social care reforms.”
- Question 2 asked what should stay the same. The discussion of this question was given the least space in the document. The only responses discussed are the maintaining of special rules for the terminally ill, and maintaining the non means-tested and non-taxable nature of DLA. The Government’s response is to agree wholeheartedly at length, despite it being stated clearly in the consultation document that “The new benefit will not be means-tested or taxable, and payment will not depend on having paid National Insurance contributions.” and “We will continue to support those in the most difficult circumstances by maintaining special rules for people who are terminally ill”. As such, the Government response is empty.
- There were 5505 responses to this question, yet only three minor points are discussed in this document.
- There were other points about what should remain the same, including by The Broken
of Britain4, and these views were not mentioned in the response document. Question 4 asked about the change from 3 rates of Car Component of DLA to 2 rates of Daily Living Component: specifically, whether this would make the benefit easier to understand and administer, and what disadvantages or problems might stem from the problem. The response tells us that “The majority of organisations welcomed the move to the new, broader definitions of the daily living and mobility components as being a better reflection of the real experience of disabled people’s daily lives.” This does statement does not give an accurate reflection of views, and does not mention precise numbers.
- The only opposing opinion mentioned is that Some organisations commented that, by raising the threshold at which an individual would qualify for benefit, those with some, but not significant, support needs would be disproportionately affected and could end up using other government services at greater cost to the state.” There were other opinions that were not mentioned. 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. Others made the same point. These arguments were ignored.
- The Government says that most organisations are happy, and repeats its original plans 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 (Question 5), the Government notes some, but not all arguments, and then repeats its intention from the consultation document
- Not all contrary arguments are made in the document
- In Question 8, on including the use of aids and adaptations in the PIP assessment, where there was strong feeling against the Government's proposals, the Government state that 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".
- The Government offer no supporting evidence for their “wish”
- In Question 11 on face-to-face assessment the Government, faced with the arguments, resort 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."
- They offer no substantiation of their “belief”.
- 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.
14 February 2011
10 February 2011