Benefits and Work: You’re not so easy to silence

An update from Benefits and Work’s Steve Donnison

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Steve Donnison  |  10 November 2009

www.benefitsandwork.co.uk

You’re not so easy to silence

With just a few days of consultation left now, Andy Burnham’s attempt to ‘close down…the debate and controversy over disability living allowance’ seems to have been only a partial success.

As we explained in our last newsletter, Burnham gave an assurance that DLA for people aged under 65 was not going to form part of the funding for the National Care Service. Like many others, we pointed out that this means that DLA for people aged 65 and over, as well as AA, is still under threat. We urged people not to let this cunningly worded concession succeed in silencing them.

And you certainly didn’t.

People have continued to sign the No 10 petition, which is now at number 6 on the Downing Street site with over 20,000 signatures.

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

And posts have continued to pour into the Big Care debate website which now has almost 3,400 submissions.

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

Many recent posts make it clear that you are aware that assurances have been give about DLA for people aged under 65, but you’re still not happy.

In addition, following our revelations in a members only article on the site at the end of last month, many recent posts have been about the fact that the government proposes to send everyone a one-off £20,000 tax bill on their 65th birthday to help cover the cost of the proposed National Care Service.

More secrecy around National Care Service
http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/latest-news/1123-more-secrecy-around-national-care-service

The tax will be means-tested, so not everyone will have to pay the full amount. But it can be recovered from your estate after you die, if you own a home or other property. And the tax also won’t cover the cost of food and accommodation if you have to go into residential care, only the care itself.

So, you still facing losing your disability benefits at age 65, you’ll still get handed a £20,000 tax bill and yet, if you do have to go into residential care for two years, the green paper estimates that you will still have to pay half of the estimated £50,000 cost from your own pocket.

MPs were also not fooled into silence by Burnham’s DLA announcement. In a debate on the proposals at the end of last month, Burnham was repeatedly questioned about whether DLA for people aged 65 and over would be used to fund the National Care Service. He repeatedly dodged answering the question.

Burnham refuses to answer DLA questions
http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/latest-news/1122-burnham-refuses-to-answer-dla-questions

Suspicions about the government’s plans have been further fuelled by its refusal to publish promised details of how the new service will be funded.

More secrecy around National Care Service
http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/latest-news/1123-more-secrecy-around-national-care-service

A coalition of charities – the Care and Support Alliance – is now set to make a Freedom of Information request to try to obtain the information.

Unfortunately, there is at least one organisation which continues to claim that DLA is now safe. . . Disability Alliance. Until the end of last week their home page still proclaimed ‘DLA no longer part of social care plans. See our press release.’

The link has now been removed from their home page, but the 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” remains. So, Burnham may have succeeded in closing down the debate in one place at least.

For the rest of us, we still have until Friday to make our contribution to the Big Care debate and to sign the petition.

We’ll be back next Tuesday with our final email of this campaign and information about how you can stay in touch with what happens next.

Good luck,

Steve Donnison

Please feel free to forward or publish this article.

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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