Green paper will push disabled people into the red, say campaigners


Leading disability organisations are to tell the government that measures in its care and support green paper would put disabled people at greater risk of poverty and social isolation.

In their official responses to a consultation on the green paper, two umbrella organisations will both heavily criticise proposals to scrap some non-means-tested disability benefits – possibly to include attendance allowance (AA) and disability living allowance (DLA) for those over 65 – and “integrate” them into council budgets to help pay for means-tested social care.

Between them, the United Kingdom’s Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC) and Disability Alliance (DA) represent scores of disabled people’s and disability organisations.

UKDPC, whose response followed a consultation event held with disability organisations Disability LIB and Brent Advocacy Concerns, is to tell the government that AA and DLA keep “many disabled people above the poverty line”.

And DA will say that scrapping such benefits could “heighten the likelihood of disabled people living in poverty”.

In DA’s own online survey, with nearly 200 respondents, 93 per cent did not want disability benefits folded into council budgets for means-tested social services.

Both organisations describe AA and DLA in their consultation responses as the “ultimate individual budgets”, which enable disabled people to spend the money as they choose to increase their ability to live independently and to meet their basic needs.

Both UKDPC and DA welcome large parts of the green paper, such as plans for a single system of needs assessment across England and its emphasis on personalization.

But DA will say that the absence of detail in the green paper has severely damaged the “significant positive elements of reform” and caused “many disabled people to fear the loss of support and resources at a time of significant financial insecurity”.

And it will call for the government’s proposed National Care Service to be funded by general taxation, just like the NHS, an option that is “supported by the vast majority of our members and the general public”.

In the DA survey, nearly two-thirds supported a tax-funded system of care.

DA will also be heavily critical of the government’s failure to publish some of the technical detail behind its plans until next year, including which disability benefits it is considering abolishing, at what level eligibility for support will be set under the proposed National Care Service, and a detailed breakdown of the three suggested models for funding the service.

And UKDPC will say that it is concerned that the government could be trying to remove any entitlement to services for disabled people with lower care needs, and will criticise the government for ignoring the needs of younger disabled people in the green paper.

The consultation was due to end on 13 November.

12 November 2009