Responsible Reform: Changes to Disability Living Allowance

Sue Marsh


This report, written by disabled people themselves, and based on an analysis of some 500 responses to the UK government's consultation on its planned Disability Living Allowance (DLA) changes and cuts, illustrates that the coalition's proposed 'reforms' lack both support and credibility. 'Responsible Reform' shows that the government's DLA consultation breached the government's own code of practice and was "highly misleading". The material used here has been made public only as a result of disabled people requesting to see it under the Freedom of Information Act. Key findings include:
* 98 per cent of respondents object to the qualifying period for benefits being raised from three months to six months
* 99 per cent of respondents object to Disability Living Allowance no longer being used as a qualification for other benefits
* 92 per cent oppose removing the lowest rate of support for disabled people.
In all three cases, as well as many others, London's Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson, has also objected to the proposed changes. The Welfare Reform Bill will be disastrous for sick and disabled people, says joint author Sue Marsh. It is not too late for a government rethink. Members of the House of Lords are being urged to back an adjournment debate calling for a pause of at least six months.

Read the full report here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/files/response_to_proposed_dla_reforms.pdf An easy-read version has been made available by United Response here: http://bit.ly/xy0elw

Among the report's conclusions are that:
* Only seven per cent of organisations which took part in the consultation were fully in support of plans to replace DLA with PIP
* There was overwhelming opposition in the consultation responses to nearly all of the government's proposals for DLA reform
* The government has consistently used inaccurate figures to exaggerate the rise in DLA claimants
* The report shows that nearly all of the recent increase in working-age claimants of DLA has been associated with mental health conditions and learning difficulties. Between 2002 and 2010, the number of working-age DLA claimants - excluding those with mental health conditions and learning difficulties remained remarkably stable
* 98 per cent of those who responded opposed plans to change the qualifying period for PIP from three months (as it is with DLA) to six months
* 90 per cent opposed plans for a new assessment, which disabled people fear will be far too similar to the much-criticised work capability assessment used to test eligibility for employment and support allowance (ESA)
* Respondents to the consultation repeatedly warned that the government's plans could breach the Equality Act, the Human Rights Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

[Along with editors and authors Sue Marsh and Dr S J Campbell, contributors include Kaliya Franklin; Declan Gaffney; Mason Dixon; Leigh James; Sam Barnett-Cormack; Rhydian Fon-James; Dawn Willis, and others. The report is published independently but supported and endorsed by a range of NGOs, including Ekklesia, Disability Alliance, Mind, Papworth Trust and Scope]