A disabled people’s organisation has told two government ministers that their cost-cutting disability living allowance (DLA) reforms could be “counter-productive” and make it harder for disabled people to work.
Both the disabled people’s minister, Maria Miller, and the care services minister, Paul Burstow, visited Essex Coalition of Disabled People (ECDP) last week, just as it was about to publish its survey on the government’s planned changes to DLA.
In June, the government announced a major reform of DLA, with tighter eligibility, a new medical test and reassessments for all claimants of working age over the three years from 2013.
The ECDP survey found 93 per cent of disabled people were very or quite concerned about the planned changes to DLA, while more than three-quarters said the changes were likely to have a big or fairly big impact on their everyday lives.
More than half of the 141 respondents feared their DLA could be taken away, while a third thought they might not be able to work if this happened.
Rich Watts, ECDP’s director of policy and development, said: “What we were very keen to impress on [the two ministers] was that our survey said that one in three people said they were unlikely to work as a result of the changes in DLA.
“These changes could be counter-productive to their goal of getting people back in work.
“To both of them we said: ‘Rather than swinging the axe we would like you to talk to disabled people and their organisations on how to approach this and how to minimise the impact on disabled people.’”
Watts said there had been a strong sense of “injustice” among the disabled people who took part in the survey, who believed the government was “picking on disabled people” and “trying to lump us into the same category as benefits scroungers”.
Many were worried about the prospect of another hugely stressful assessment.
He added: “Some people just seemed tired that they worked so hard to get the right care and support but will have to go through this all over again.”
One respondent accused the government of “putting disability back under the medical microscope”.
Another said: “Having endured the form and the medical, I dread having to go through the whole process again along with millions of others.”
And a third disabled person said: “Without my DLA I would lose my adapted car, my independence and my job. DLA supports me to contribute because it enables me to work full time.”
26 July 2010