Thousands of disabled people have backed a new campaign to prevent the government scrapping two key disability benefits.
The campaign to save disability living allowance (DLA) and attendance allowance (AA) follows the publication of the government’s care and support green paper in July.
The green paper outlines plans for a “National Care Service” that would provide a “fairer, simple and affordable” system of care and support for disabled adults and older people in England, with minimum entitlements for all those eligible for services.
But it also says: “We think we should consider integrating some elements of disability benefits, for example attendance allowance, to create a new offer for individuals with care needs.”
The disability benefits website Benefits and Work said this could mean money currently allocated for DLA and AA instead being used by social services to help fund means-tested personal budgets.
DLA is a non-means-tested benefit for those under 65 when they first claim, whereas AA is for those aged over 65 when they first claim and is also not means-tested.
Benefits and Work launched the campaign on 5 August, and was looking for at least 1,000 disabled people, carers and support workers to join up. A consultation on the green paper ends on 13 November.
But within 24 hours, more than 5,000 people had signed up, and within five days that number had passed the 13,000 mark. Many have also written to their MP or local paper.
Steve Donnison, co-founder of Benefits and Work, said the response was “extraordinary”. “I think people are extraordinarily suspicious about what this administration might do next in terms of benefits.
“It seems very certain that they would like to scrap AA, and I think they would like to scrap DLA but they are not sure if they could get away with it or not.”
Donnison said such a move would have a “disastrous” impact on disabled people’s independence, as many use the benefits to supplement “very basic things” like rent, medication and heating.
He said: “If you took that money away I think a lot of people would struggle desperately to get by.”
Donnison said he hoped one of the big disability charities would take up the campaign.
RNIB is to campaign to prevent AA being scrapped, and opposes abolishing DLA. It says more than 53,000 blind and partially-sighted people receive AA.
To sign up, visit www.benefitsandwork.co.uk
10 August 2009