Government plans to reform disability living allowance (DLA) are “obscene” and represent the “death of aspiration and hope” for disabled people, according to the UK’s leading representative voice of disabled people’s organisations.
The UK Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC) has told the government – in its response to the public consultation on its DLA reforms – that DLA has an “incalculable” value to disabled people seeking independent living.
The government says it wants to make total savings of £2.17 billion in DLA spending by the end of 2015/16 and cut the number of working-age people claiming the benefit by 20 per cent.
There was particular criticism by UKDPC of plans to prioritise DLA support to “those people least able to live full and active lives”, which it said represented “a significant failure… to value the wide range of human experience”.
It added: “Is it enough to help people out of bed in the morning and back to bed at night with a couple of meals possibly thrown in, and the bed changed for good measure… what is endorsed is the death of aspiration and hope.”
UKDPC was equally critical of the suggestion that the new assessment should take into account the aids and adaptations a disabled person uses.
It said the government’s “focus on aids and adaptations” and “measuring ability” was “a travesty of civil liberties” and a “cynical” attempt to justify an “agenda of cost saving”.
It also pointed to “serious concern” about the proposal to remove the mobility component of DLA from people in residential care, and warned that gay and lesbian disabled people would no longer be able to access LGBT venues without this financial support.
UKDPC said it believed disabled people’s DLA eligibility should be decided through self-assessment “with supporting confirmation” by a GP or another professional “with a working knowledge of the individual and their daily living”.
The response – based on views expressed by UKDPC members – also pointed to the many barriers that prevent full inclusion and independent living for disabled people, including poor access to public transport, cuts to local authority support, the lack of accessible housing and barriers to work.
21 February 2011