Government plans to reform disability living allowance (DLA) and cut spending by 20 per cent will deny help to many disabled people least able to access alternative support, a disabled peer has told the House of Lords.
Dame [Tanni] Grey-Thompson called on the government to abandon plans to remove support from DLA claimants with the lowest care needs, as part of its welfare reform bill.
She said the government plans would end support for 652,000 working-age adults who currently receive the lowest of the three rates of the care component of DLA, with disabled children and older people with lower needs “set to follow” in the future.
She said removing this support would “exacerbate the care funding crisis, as disabled people would not be able to manage – in particular those with low-level need”.
The disabled Labour peer, Baroness [Rosalie] Wilkins, added: “It is hard to believe that abolishing the lower rate will do anything more than remove much needed help from large numbers of people.
“This may help the government to reduce the DLA budget but the costs will undoubtedly turn up elsewhere in public expenditure, whether it is in the costs of increased health needs or in the implications for social services budgets.”
Lord Low, another disabled peer, said the proposal was “one of the principal causes of the fear and apprehension” disabled people were feeling about the DLA reforms.
Lord Freud, the Conservative welfare reform minister, said the proposal to move from three care rates to just two was intended to simplify the system and make it easier to understand, but the government also wanted to “prioritise support” for those whose impairment “has most impact on their ability to participate”.
He added: “Some people will receive more support under our proposals; some the same; and some less.”
But he said the government had not yet decided how many people would lose all support under the new system.
17 November 2011