Greens join battle over DLA and AA


Disabled Green Party activists are joining the fight to prevent the government scrapping disability living allowance (DLA) and attendance allowance (AA).

Following a fringe meeting of the party’s trade union group, members agreed to submit a defence of the two key disability benefits as part of a response to the care and support green paper.

It came as the Disability Charities Consortium, which includes Mind, RADAR, Scope and Mencap, launched a petition on the Prime Minister’s website, calling on the government to protect DLA and AA in any future social care reforms.

Joseph Healy, the Green Party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Vauxhall, who receives DLA himself, said there was real concern in the party about the possible threat to “integrate” money allocated for AA and DLA (or at least its care component) into council funds to help pay for means-tested care services.

Healy, who is also treasurer of the trade union group, said DLA was “one of the most progressive disability benefits”, and added: “Once benefits are given to local councils they tend to use the revenue to shore up other services.

“The danger in the current climate of cuts and national debt is it has become the consensus among the main parties that nothing can be ruled out.”

But he said the government may feel that scrapping DLA and AA would be “too politically sensitive this close to an election”.

Alan Wheatley, the party’s disability spokesman, said such a move would “strip the individual of autonomy”, and added: “To remove AA and DLA would be catastrophic because so many claimants have come to rely on those benefits.”

Concerns were raised after the government’s care and support green paper stated: “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.”

A consultation on the green paper ends on 13 November.

Last week, the Department for Work and Pensions refused to rule out the possibility of scrapping both DLA and AA, and said: “It’s not an open consultation if you start closing down options.”

Meanwhile, West Country campaigners will collect signatures for a petition opposing any moves to scrap DLA and AA, on Monday 28 September. They will be on College Green, outside Bristol Cathedral, from 9.30am to 2.30pm.

7 September 2009

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