Welfare Reform – The Concerns

Happy new year everyone! January marks an important time for us in the Mencap Liverpool campaigns team, as we get ready once again to fight for the rights of people with a learning disability.

In my first blog of 2012 I am going to talk about the pressing matter of the Welfare Reform Bill, and some concerns I have particularly around the proposed changes to Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Mencap Liverpool is extremely concerned about the proposed change of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Here, I have highlighted some of the main concerns:

–         The government estimate that changing DLA to PIP will mean a 20% decrease in the amount of disabled children and adults that will be supported by this benefit.

–         The government proposes that there will be no indefinite awards, which means that people will have to have regular assessments to decide whether they should still receive this benefit – these constant reassessments will cause people who have a life long disability significant distress. Surely these reassessments are a further waste of money? Has this not already been tried and failed with Employment Support Allowance (ESA)?

–         A removal of the ‘middle rate’ – those who are not necessarily on the more severe end of the scale will lose the money that pays for vital support for them in the home and in work. We fear that getting rid of the ‘middle rate’ means that everyone currently receiving this rate will be reassessed and moved into the ‘low rate’ group.

Many people with Chrones Disease, Bi-Polar and other serious illnesses have already had their DLA appeals turned down. Only 14,000 out of 36,000 appeals were won last year!

This bill’s final reading will take place in The House Of Commons pending January 12th. I have a prominent involvement in the fight against disability cuts, and alongside many others have written to every notable Liberal Democrat Peer during the Lords Stage of the Bill to urge them to win a ‘no’ vote by opposing the reform of DLA.

But the work is not done – Mencap Liverpool (as well as independently organized and user led groups such as Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)) urge you all to GET INVOLVED!

Read disability blogs and be active in the fight against cuts through setting up local anti-disability-cuts group. Write to every MP & Lord you can think of. Use petitions, partake in consultations, volunteer at your local disability charity and get in touch with your local council.

Campaigns such as The Hardest Hit have made good progress but I think that we need to continue to request more detailed demands, raising concerns such as those listed above. We – disability charities and disability campaign groups – cannot do this alone. We need popular support. Join us in the fight for preservation of DLA.

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