A basic guide to disability cuts, and why they should be opposed


10:40 am - February 9th 2011

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contribution by Sean Gittins

Unfortunately, cuts and changes to disability and sickness benefit have with a few exceptions not entered into mainstream debates. If we are to get the public to realise not only how unfair the Coalition’s proposals are but also do something about it then this needs to change.

The government is proposing alterations and cuts to two of the most important benefits available to the sick and disabled (although there are others): the Employment Support Allowance (ESA), and the Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

ESA
At the heart of ESA claims are Work Capability Assessments (WCA) – the medical examination that in most cases one will undergo if making an ESA claim – and it is primarily this that the government is trying to alter. Unpopular since its introduction as part of the ESA anyway, the Coalition’s proposals will make the WCA even more so for a variety of reasons.

The chief worry is that private consultation firms such as Atos are involved. A recent Compass report showed how claimants are taken off or turned down for benefit when their claim reaches Atos, but on appeal 70% of cases were overturned.

At the root of that figure lies a conflict of interest – that Atos are paid on a target based system whereby they earn more if they reject people’s claims for benefit. Personal testimonies (PDF) also show that the use of computer programs to make decisions about disability is an almost useless method for understanding physical disability and sickness, and even more so in the case of mental illness.

DLA
The government also proposes to scrap the DLA and replace it with The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which will be made up of two components – the “Mobility Component” and the “Daily Living Component”. The former of these components receives a great deal of attention in the government’s proposals and seeks to alter what is meant by mobility within a benefit claim.

It is a view of the government’s proposals that the meaning of disability has in fact changed, and that to have been disabled twenty years ago through social and technological advances is no longer necessarily a disability. Even though the government report lacks specific examples of what these changes to the meaning of the term disability may amount to, there are consequences.

For example, under the current DLA rules and procedures whilst someone in a wheelchair is considered disabled this may be amended and, if you use a wheelchair but can leave the house, then under planned changes to the meaning of mobility you may not qualify as disabled.

Making life harder
Even if one agrees that there should be an emphasis on helping disabled people to work (which many don’t) the government has decided not to do so by setting up stronger and better state funded projects to get people back to work but to do so through other means.

These means include making it even harder to claim benefit; placing the burden of a disability or sickness firmly on the individuals rather than sharing it through the state; and giving an increased role to private firms that according to the facts are not doing their job well enough.

To find out more, see National Protest Against Benefit Cuts, and Broken of Britain.


Sean Gittins blogs here and tweets from here. A longer version of this article is here.

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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Equality ,Fight the cuts

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Reader comments


The government’s disability benefit plans are motivated by a desire to appease the right-wing tabloid press who claim that vast numbers of benefit claimants are fradulent workshy scroungers.

It is correct that disability issues are somehow being ignored from the mainstream debate and of even more concern that this Tory government are intent on pauperising so many people.

Later this year the Work programme will come into being (a replacement for FND), but unlike previous programmes, this one will force many people who once claimed IB back into work – even if this is against their best interests.

Those with more serious disabilities will not escape either. Already Work Choice is stepping up to the start grid with the aim of getting many disabled people back into work.

Now I’m not saying that disabled people or those on IB shouldn’;t work. What I am saying is that they should be given greater choice – a far greater level of autonomy. What about those who don’t want to work, but would prefer to study for a qualification? Or those who, because of family/ home circumstances feel it inappropriate to work?

Disabled people have rights and should be given the opportunity to determine their own future and not have it decided for them by an oppressive Tory regime.

Might I take the liberty to recommend http://wheresthebenefit.blogspot.com also for information on these issues? It’s a more newsy/information focus.

4. Peter Lockhart

Sadly we learned today that Labour has decided to support the coalition in their cuts to disability benefits

5. Peter Lockhart

Also its never publicised widely…even by Disability Protest Groups….of the drastic decision to Scrap the Independent Living Fund as if this is a minor consideration to the other Disability Benefits!!…Its not, it will affect Thousands & force many into hardship and Residential Care…so come on you Disability Related Organisations & Campaign groups please throw your weight behind saving the Independent Living Fund too!

7. Arthur Seaton

Robbing the disabled to keep their banker paymasters in multi-million bonuses. What delightful specimens of humanity the Tories and their apologists are.

How the hell can you blame the Tories. ESA, WCA medical, Brown saying he cut DLA, all this comes from the Labour party.

Labour was the worse at this I expected the Tories to hit us, but then again under Thatcher i was miles better off then under labour.

I’m paraplegic which is pretty serious, but have been told using a wheelchair does not mean your disabled since a wheelchair is now basically mobility your mobile, the DDA now makes using a wheelchair the same as having legs, this came from Maria Eagle the minister for labours disabled.

yes the Tories are taking it a step further but the ground work was labour.

Labour giving us 75p benefit rise qand then making sure our benefits went down in real terms, the Tories gave us DLA labour tried to stop it.

The cuts in benefits for JSA if Thatcher had carried on in the same way JSA would now be £110 a week not £64.

remember Blair telling people about the workshy, the ass hole was a Tory.

Political discussion of the disability cuts would be much easier, if all three of our mainstream parties were not pretty much agreed on the cuts taking place. Our commentariat follows suit- those wanting to question political consensus on this issue are told they are hard left and not being constructive.

Discussion of disability issues, and the ESA, DLA ‘reforms’ are as absent from our mainstream, faux independent, and mainstram political activist discussion, as they are from parliament because it is not politically expedient to dwell on taht consensus.

As a labour supporter, I think we need to keep a wary eye on govt changes
to the DLA.and how it affects genuinely disabled people
However, I wonder if the public are aware of the generosity of the govt to people
receiving this benefit when they are in no way disabled in the true sense.
I have a friend who has arthritis in the spine but leads a completely normal life,
driving her car every day taking her children to school and also long journeys.
One day a brand new car turned up for her sole use, cost of at least £8,000, even
though she didn’t need it and shouldn’t have been entitled to DLA anyway.
It is cases such as these that give the conservataive govt the excuse to punish
genuine cases

Henry the car is more then likely from Motability she pay for this out of the mobility of DLA thats what it’s for or paying for taxi’s or what ever to make you mobile, did you know DLA is paid for people to go to work, it was given as a means of helping people.

How do you know what this women heels like Arthritis of the spine is serious, she might well be like me and has a morphine pump which delivers morphine to her spine.

DLA is not paid to people with the worse disability, it can be a minor disability that gets paid and the people with the most severe does not get anything.

DLA is paid to people who illness or disability affects them, for example if you have arthritis of your fingers and you cannot make food or have a cup of tea or wipe your own Ares, or dress your self, will get full DLA whole a person with no legs might well fail to get the full DLA.

But let me tell you to get DLA yes we have people who can lie like hell and cheat the system, but they say it’s o.5% which is tiny.

For me to get DLA I had to have a scan, then two medicals one by a private doctor who said I should have full DLA, and then by a doctor three years later.

I am severely disabled but guess what I have a brand new £23,000 car, which hand controls, and I drive lots.

Being disabled is not the same as being dead……

By the way most DLA is paid to people who are in work and are not on the sick…..

13. Alma Fotheringhame

The planned Welfare Reform Bill is a serious travesty to all those who are disabled children and adults alike. This “so called” Universal Credit plan should be stopped now, Cameron has to be made to stop now. There are people who are suicidal over these plans, and I just wonder who will shoulder the blame if there are people who take their lives because they cannot cope any more? I can assure you, it most certainly will not be the Prime Minister or his cohorts.

Please let this madness stop now, leave the disabled alone. NO UNIVERSAL CREDIT.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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  62. A Basic Guide To Disability Cuts And Why They Should Be Opposed « Same Difference

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