Future of DLA: Health Secretary Andy Burnham speech, Benefits and Work updates

Update: New update from Benefits and Work added since this post was published see: DLA saved – for some” at end of post.

DLA: Health Secretary Andy Burnham speech, Benefits and Work updates

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Guardian  |  Rachel Williams  |  Thursday 22 October 2009

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/oct/22/social-care-nhs-disability-allowance

Health secretary Andy Burnham: ‘Nobody receiving disability benefits will lose out’.

The health secretary, Andy Burnham, will today rule out a controversial plan to scrap disability benefit paid to 2.5 million younger people.

In a major speech on the future of social care, he will say he has decided not to use disability living allowance (DLA) to fund the new national care service.

But the abandonment of the idea, which would have saved £6bn, raises further questions about how the government will meet the spiralling bill for social care. Last night the Tories claimed there was a £4.6bn “black hole” in Labour’s flagship health plans… Read full article here

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Benefits and Work  www.benefitsandwork.co.uk

From Steve Donnison  |  22 October 2009

A champion emerges as minister admits DLA threat

The last two weeks have finally removed any uncertainty about whether DLA is under threat, but they have also brought real cause for optimism.

Lord McKenzie of Luton, the parliamentary under secretary of state for work and pensions, was asked last week in a House of Lords debate which disability benefits the government are ‘considering integrating into the wider social care budget in England’.

Lord McKenzie replied:

“At this stage, we do not want to rule out any options and so are considering all disability benefits.”

Even when care minister Phil Hope’s claim that DLA is ‘not under threat’ was referred to and Lord McKenzie was specifically asked to rule out the using DLA as a source of funding for social care, his response was “no particular benefit is ruled out of consideration.”

So, whilst we can’t say why Phil Hope made his ‘be very happy’ statement, we can now say with certainty that it does not reflect the government’s stated policy. For more, see:

Senior minister confirms DLA is under threat

http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/latest-news/1115-senior-minister-confirms-dla-is-under-threat

But that same Lord’s debate also brought a real ray of hope in the form of a champion prepared to fight for DLA and AA.

Lord Ashley of Stoke warned the minister that “any attempt by the Government to withdraw these benefits, or any benefits at all, will be very strongly resisted by disabled people, by their organisations and by many Members of both Houses of Parliament.”

Lords warn attack on DLA and AA will be “very strongly resisted”

http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/latest-news/1116-lords-warn-attack-on-dla-and-aa-will-be-very-strongly-resisted

Lord Ashley – former MP Jack Ashley – is a formidable campaigner, with victories dating right back to the thalidomide campaign of the 1970s. It will not have brought any joy to ministers’ hearts to see Jack Ashley, and a number of other noble Lords, lining up against them. And it’s a tribute to the efforts of Benefits and Work campaigners that this issue has gone from being almost entirely unacknowledged – or dismissed as scaremongering – to being debated in the House of Lords in less than three months.

Elsewhere, the No 10 petition has perked up again, now reaching over 17,000 signatures. As few as another 1,000 signatures should see it getting into the top 10 petitions before the care consultation ends on November 13th. Do you know people who haven’t signed yet? Try and encourage them along to:

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/AttendanceA/

Meanwhile, the Big Care debate website continues to be swamped by people protesting about the threat to disability benefits. From a feeble 130 posts when we began this campaign, there are now 2,219 responses on the Executive Summary page and 606 on Having Your Say. The total is far higher than that achieved by any similar government consultation and the responses are overwhelmingly hostile.

If you haven’t yet sent a response, please do so by visiting this link:

http://careandsupport.direct.gov.uk/greenpaper/execsum/

Or emailing: careandsupport@dh.gsi.gov.uk

We’d like to close this newsletter with an email from one of our campaigners which we think is an inspiring example of spontaneous campaigning:

“Today I was in the Blackburn Shopping Centre on my Shopmobility scooter when I saw Mr. Jack Straw doing his shopping. It was too good an opportunity not to speak with him, so after a few swift manoeuvres I asked for one minute of his time. I told him that I had worked for the past 32 years in the NHS and had now been diagnosed with RA [rheumatoid arthritis] hence the scooter and that I have just been awarded DLA and what a difference it has and will make to myself and indeed others and to please not take it away…. He said “he wouldn’t” and gave me his card to write to him and of course I will follow it up with a letter.”

We’re not suggesting that gangs of claimants on Shopmobility scooters should roam our town centres hunting for MPs spending their expenses – pleasing though that image is – but if you’re able to, why not make an appointment to see your MP at their regular surgery and put your views across in person?

With an election looming, the fact that people are prepared to actually visit them in their offices will make a real impression, particularly on MPs with slender majorities.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

Please feel free to forward or publish this email.

Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
www.benefitsandwork.co.uk
Company registration No. 5962666

POST YOUR NEWS

Finally, remember that you can post your news in the Benefits and Work forum, if you’re a member, at:

http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/forum?func=showcat&catid=13

and/or in the free welfare watch forums at:

http://welfarewatch.myfineforum.org/index.php

You can also keep up with news about opposition to the green paper at the Carer Watch campaign blog:

http://carerwatch.com/cuts/

Unfortunately, we’re getting so many emails on this subject that we are unlikely to be able to respond individually. But we do appreciate hearing your news and views and we do encourage you to publish them for others to read on the forums detailed above.

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Benefits and Work  www.benefitsandwork.co.uk

From Steve Donnison  |  14 October 2009

Your chances of getting ESA – the secret’s out

14.10.09

Dear Subscriber,

We finally have statistics which tell us what proportion of claimants get an award of ESA and what proportion who don’t get an award subsequently win on appeal. We also know how many people are getting into the support group.

Overall, the figures are not good – but they’re also not as bad as many in the media and the welfare to work industry had been claiming. They aren’t even as bad as the DWP is now trying to make them out to be, as they crow about “stopping more people getting trapped on long-term sickness benefit”.

Read more about the real figures – the ones not mentioned in the dwp press release – in our members area article.

On the subject of bad figures, how would you feel about a £35,000 tax bill? That’s what one disabled claimant has been landed with after changing the employment status of her personal carers. We asked our resident barrister Holiday Whitehead what, if anything, this claimant did wrong.

Her response got us thinking that if you employ personal carers you may well have all sorts of employment issues you’d like an answer to. So, why not drop us an email at info@benefitsandwork.co.uk and we’ll publish (anonymously) a selection of your queries along with Holiday’s answers.

And, just to lighten the mood a little, we have some very happy emails from people who – with a bit of help from Benefits and Work – have won awards of benefits for themselves, their children or other family members.

Finally, a gentle reminder: if you haven’t signed the DLA/AA petition on the number 10 website please do pop along and do so at:

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/AttendanceA/

There are over 15,000 signatures on it now, but more are still needed if it’s to strike fear into the hearts of vote hungry MPs. For those of you who also subscribe to the No More Benefits Cuts newsletter, there’ll be another one out next Tuesday.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

£35,000 tax bill – could it happen to you?

http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/latest-news/1112-p35000-tax-bill-for-disabled-claimant

Last month a disabled grandmother received a tax bill for £35,000 for unpaid employers’ tax and national insurance in respect of her full-time carers.

I haven’t stopped grinning since

http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/latest-news/1113-i-havent-stopped-grinning-since

Awards of DLA for themselves and for relatives, successful appeals . . . more good news from our members.

MEMBERS ONLY

Not yet a member?
Find out how to join Benefits and Work and get instant access to all our downloadable claims and appeals guides, DWP materials, members news items and more.

www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/join-us

Your chances of getting ESA – the secret’s out
http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/members-only-news/1111-your-chances-of-getting-esa–the-secrets-out

The DWP have released statistics showing how many people have successfully claimed ESA. However, the figures may not be as bad as the DWP are trying to make them appear.

(c) 2009 Steve Donnison. All rights reserved.

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Benefits and Work  www.benefitsandwork.co.uk

From Steve Donnison  |  27 October 2009

DLA saved – for some

It’s a start, but nowhere near enough.

Health secretary Andy Burnham has said that he has ‘heard the concerns and worries about disability living allowance’. As a result, he has announced that:

“I can state categorically that we have now ruled out any suggestion that DLA for under-65s will be brought into the new National Care Service.”

Good news indeed . . . for some . . . for the moment.

But definitely not for the one and a half million people who depend on AA.

Nor for the for the three quarters of a million people aged 65 and over who receive DLA.

Not even for the 400,000 DLA claimants currently aged between 60 and 64, many of whom will have reached the age of 65 by the time labour’s proposed National Care Service is introduced.

Because, of course, DLA is not just paid to people under 65. You have to make your claim before you are 65, but you can then go on claiming indefinitely if your needs do not change.

Unfortunately, many organisations who should know better seem to have forgotten that – perhaps just as the government hoped.

Because Mr Burnham made no secret about why he made this announcement: he wants to shut people up. He said in his speech, given at a conference in Harrogate on 22nd October and also published on the Big Care Debate website:

“One avenue I do want to close down, however, is the debate and controversy over Disability Living Allowance.”

In that ambition, he seems to have succeeded, at least so far as some disability charities are concerned.

Immediately following Burnham’s speech, Disability Alliance sent out a press release stating that:

“. . . the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) benefit will not be affected by Government plans to merge some benefits with social care funding . . . Andy Burnham’s announcement will reassure disabled people that DLA is safe – for now at least.”

The Disability Charities Consortium told the media:

“This represents a real victory for disabled people who felt very strongly that the DLA should be retained and made their collective voice heard on this issue. “

Macmillan Cancer Support also issued a press release saying that:

“Whilst we are pleased the Government has said Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will not be used to meet the shortfall in social care funding, we remain deeply concerned that Attendance Allowance (AA) is still under threat.”

But that isn’t what Andy Burnham said at all. He said DLA for under 65’s is not being considered.

This was echoed by Yvette Cooper, the DWP secretary of state who told a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on ME on 21st October that DLA for people of ‘working age’ is not under review.

It was also made clear by Burnham that there will be no transitional protection of existing awards for current claimants. Instead, ‘an equivalent level of support’ will be provided by your local authority.

Burnham’s announcement seems to have had the desired effect, however – the ‘debate and controversy’ over DLA appears to be over as far as some disability charities are concerned. Yet, in a little over two weeks time the deadline for submissions on the green paper ends.

It’s vital that the case for saving DLA for all claimants is still made. Only now there is a real worry that not only have the disability charities relaxed, but also that Burnham will claim that because 3,000 submissions to the Big Care Debate were made before his announcement that DLA for under 65s is safe, they should mostly be discounted.

If you don’t want the government to get away with closing down ‘the debate and controversy over Disability Living Allowance’ there are things you can do.

Contact disability groups you have a connection with and warn them that they still need to respond to the green paper in relation to both DLA and AA.

Respond to the Care Green paper yourself, again if necessary, making it clear that you are aware that DLA for under 65s is not under consideration and giving your views on axing AA and DLA for people aged 65 and over.

http://careandsupport.direct.gov.uk/greenpaper/execsum/

Email: careandsupport@dh.gsi.gov.uk

Rouse people to sign the No 10 petition, which is gathering real momentum again: it now has over 19,000 signatures and is at number 8 out of over four and a half thousand petitions on the site. Not bad going for a petition that has been running for less than two months.

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/AttendanceA/

Tell your MP what you think or, better still, go and visit them and tell them face-to-face.

One final thought. The revelation that the government is considering slashing the income of 2.5 million older disabled claimants was made by Andy Burnham in a keynote speech last week.

The subject of that speech?

Outlawing ageism in the NHS.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

Please feel free to forward or publish this article, which is also available online at: http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/latest-news/1118-dla-saved–for-some

Benefits and Work Publishing Ltd
www.benefitsandwork.co.uk
Company registration No. 5962666

POST YOUR NEWS
Finally, remember that you can post your news in the Benefits and Work forum, if you’re a member, at:

http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/forum?func=showcat&catid=13

and/or in the free welfare watch forums at:

http://welfarewatch.myfineforum.org/index.php

You can also keep up with news about opposition to the green paper at the Carer Watch campaign blog:

http://carerwatch.com/cuts/

(c) 2009 Steve Donnison. All rights reserved.

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