DLA reforms lead disabled people ‘to question value of their own lives’


Disabled people are beginning to “question the value of their own lives” because of government plans to slash spending on disability living allowance (DLA), according to a new survey.

Disability Alliance (DA) has released the latest results from a survey on the coalition government’s reforms, which include plans to cut spending on DLA for working-age people by 20 per cent.

The disability poverty charity believes more than 800,000 disabled people are likely to lose their DLA because of the reforms.

Nearly one in ten of those who took part in the survey – most of whom were disabled people or carers – said death or suicide were possible outcomes of disabled people losing their DLA.

One said: “I would not be able to go to work, I would not be able to see my family or friends. Therefore I would not want to live.”

Another said: “It would add an extra burden on me which I know I couldn’t cope with. I would probably have to think about ending it all.”

Neil Coyle, DA’s director of policy, said: “Disabled people are telling us in great numbers that they fear the overall cuts – but that losing DLA in particular has resulted in people questioning the value of their lives.”

So far, 13 per cent of those questioned believe cutting DLA would actually cost the government money, through higher costs for the NHS and local authorities, with Coyle warning of a potential “catastrophic explosion of costly demands in the longer-term”.

Half of respondents said their DLA did not provide enough money to live on because of their disability-related costs.

One said: “I could not survive and would end it all as all my family are in difficult financial circumstances and I would have no-one to help.”

DA has submitted an interim response to a government consultation on the reforms – including an analysis of the first 900 survey responses – because it fears the new welfare reform bill could be debated by MPs before the government has had time to respond to its consultation, which closes on 14 February.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said the government was “absolutely committed” to protecting DLA and was “working with Disability Alliance and other organisations to make sure that the needs of disabled people continue to be met”.

She said: “We need to reform DLA to ensure that the £12 billion we spend on it makes the most difference and that people can rely on it for years to come.  No final decisions have been taken.”

3 February 2011