Conservative conference: Miller pledges ‘important safeguards’


The minister for disabled people has promised that the coalition government will build in “important safeguards for vulnerable groups” to its programme of spending cuts and reforms.

Maria Miller pointed to the decision of the chancellor, George Osborne, to exempt anyone claiming disability living allowance (DLA) from a planned £500 per week cap on benefits.

She told Disability News Service: “I think that demonstrates the very clear and unambiguous support that we have for ensuring that people, particularly severely disabled people, will continue to receive the support they need.”

Her message was echoed later in the week by the prime minister, David Cameron, who said the government would “always look after” those who were “sick and vulnerable and elderly”.

But Miller said there was widespread agreement that DLA needed to be reformed and “doesn’t work as well as it needs to”.

She said she was “working hard” to deliver what the chancellor wants, “which is a simplified and more focused benefit”, which was “simpler and easier to apply for” and “focused on those people that need it most”.

But when asked to confirm that this would mean large numbers of people no longer being eligible for DLA, she said the plans had “not been finalised yet” and were still at a “provisional” stage.

She also said there was a “huge lack of understanding” about DLA and that more than half of those who applied for it were not eligible to receive it.

She added: “It is still very much work that we are working on. We are looking at trying to make this benefit work much better for disabled people.”

6 October 2010