London’s Conservative mayor has heavily criticised the government’s planned cuts and reforms to disability living allowance (DLA).
Boris Johnson’s opposition to many of the government’s proposals, which are contained in its welfare reform bill, emerged this week thanks to the work of disabled researchers.
They used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the responses of more than 500 groups and organisations that took part in a government consultation on the reforms including one submitted by Johnson.
The mayor said in his response that he opposed the government’s plans to extend the qualifying period for the benefit from three months (under DLA) to six months.
And he warned that if the reforms were intended solely to save money, they “may fail to ensure that the needs of disabled people are adequately met” and that many would “suffer additional hardship and isolation”.
Johnson also attacked plans to remove the lowest of the three care components of DLA, warning that this “will financially disadvantage disabled people and push them further into poverty”.
Johnson’s criticisms are among those analysed in Responsible Reform, a report researched, written and funded by disabled people and published as the House of Lords prepared to resume discussion of the bill.
The bill contains proposals to replace DLA with a new personal independence payment (PIP) and cut spending by 20 per cent.
A spokesman for Johnson said in a statement. “The mayor has made his views known in a thoughtful and comprehensive submission to the government. His focus is always to ensure that vulnerable Londoners are protected in any fiscal and legislative change.”
But he declined to comment further.
A Conservative party spokeswoman initially sent Disability News Service a copy of a Department for Work and Pensions statement, which claimed the government had developed its proposals “significantly” since the consultation, which ended early last year.
The statement said the government had “listened” to the views of disabled people and disability organisations on the introduction of PIP, but that DLA was an “outdated benefit” which “fails to target support at those who need it most”.
The Conservative spokeswoman later accepted that Johnson was a key figure in her party, but when asked why she could not comment on his criticism of the government’s DLA reforms, she said: “I don’t know. I think that might be convoluted: what we think about what he thinks about what we think.”
She declined to comment further.
12 January 2012