An update from Benefits and Work’s Steve Donnison.
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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.
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.
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.
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From Steve Donnison | 30 October 2009
£20,000 shock birthday tax for all
A £20,000 tax bill on your 65th birthday sounds like the stuff of nightmares or political satire. But it’s one of the proposals in the care green paper which has so far received little attention as the government struggles to deal with the outcry over disability benefits cuts.
On the subject of which, people who receive the campaign newsletter will already know that the health secretary has now said DLA for the under-65s will not be used to fund the proposed new care service. But he has offered no such guarantee in relation to either AA or DLA currently paid to people aged 65 and over.
Combine a £20,000 tax bill with your DLA being stopped and 65th birthdays could become the most financially ruinous occasion of many people’s lives. Members can read the full story at:
£20,000 shock birthday tax for all
Of course, none of this may happen and you still have a chance to have your say about whether it should or not by visiting:
or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Employment and support allowance is also proving financially ruinous, not just to claimants being refused it, but possibly also to the private sector companies involved in the mandatory work-focused Pathways interviews.
We look at claims by a multinational company that delays in ESA medicals are leading to lost profits for them and to terminally ill claimants being forced to attend Pathways interviews.
The company also suggests that claimants who make real efforts to move towards employment before their medical may be losing their entitlement to ESA as a result and thus also losing the support that Pathways is supposed to provide.
Finally, in an effort to end on a slightly cheerier note, we have the news that CPAG have put an end to bullying attempts by the DWP to recover money from claimants where they have no legal right to get the money back.
It’s good to know that there’s still a little justice left out there.
DLA saved – for some
Health secretary Andy Burnham 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.”
CPAG victory over DWP bullies
Children Poverty Action Group (CPAG) have won a court order to stop the DWP threatening legal action against claimants in order to recover money the department has no right to.
Lords warn attack on DLA and AA will be “very strongly resisted”
Disabled benefits claimants have finally found influential allies in their fight to save DLA and AA from being used to pay for the government’s planned national care service. Bizarrely, one of these allies may even be David Freud, now the shadow work and pensions minister.
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Claimants who try lose benefits
A private sector provider alleges that claimants risk losing their employment and support allowance (ESA) as a result of diligently taking part in the Pathways to Work programme. They also claim that delays in medical assessments are causing ‘confusion and distress to claimants’, with some terminally ill people being forced to attend work-focused interviews, and are hitting the private sector’s profits.
£20,000 shock birthday tax for all
It’s your 65th birthday. A pile of cards drop through the letterbox. There’s also two brown envelopes…