The minister for disabled people has denied that the government exaggerated the growth in claimants of disability benefits in order to justify scrapping disability living allowance (DLA).
Maria Miller insisted that the statistics used by the government to explain the need to replace DLA with the new personal independent payment (PIP) and cut spending by 20 per cent were “actual figures”.
In August, new official statistics showed the real growth in the number of working-age DLA claimants – excluding demographic factors – was just 13 per cent over eight years, far lower than the 30 per cent increase used by the government to justify its sweeping reforms and cuts.
But Miller insisted this week that the 30 per cent figure used by the government was “not an exaggeration”, and told Disability News Service: “They were actual figures. The important thing is what we are trying to do is keep the rate of growth under control.”
Earlier, Miller appeared to be using the talents of Britain’s Paralympic hopefuls to try to justify her government’s welfare reform agenda.
She told the party conference how she had met some of the athletes at last month’s International Paralympic Day celebrations in Trafalgar Square.
She said: “These people had overcome some immense challenges to get to where they are today, to build a career, to contribute so substantially to our national life.”
She added: “These people want to be judged for what they can do, not for what they cannot,” a phrase used repeatedly by both Labour and coalition governments to justify their welfare reform agenda.
It is the first clear sign that the government could be planning to use the medal-winning exploits of Britain’s Paralympians at London 2012 to try to gain public support for its sweeping welfare reforms.
Later in the speech she repeated the phrase, saying: “What I hear from disabled people is they want to be judged on what they can do, and not what they cannot.”
4 October 2011