The report that must be read

9th January, 2012 2:18 pm

I feel I have a responsibility to write today about “Responsible Reform”, the report into Disability Allowance Reform which been
written, researched and funded by disabled people.

That’s because I used to receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA) when I first came out of hospital, in a wheelchair, after having my
neurological system wrecked by POEMS syndrome, a rare nerve-disorder caused by antibodies generated by a bone marrow cancer. DLA is not means-tested so you can get it while you are working – instead your level of need is measured relating to care needs and mobility needs. The idea is that it helps cover the additional cost of living involved in having a disability, such as paying for transport when you can’t walk to places you need to get to.

I was lucky on two counts (perhaps an unusual way to describe the aftermath of getting a life-threatening cancer aged 37). I got the
funding I needed. And I gradually – over a period of 2 and a half years to date – recovered my mobility thanks partly to great NHS
physiotherapy but mainly due to the nature of the condition – once radiotherapy had zapped the tumour, my nervous system gradually repaired itself at a steady rate of 1mm a day.

My mobility isn’t back to 100% yet – I still wear orthotic supports as my ankles are weak, and walk outdoors with a stick – but I don’t now need and would no longer qualify for DLA.

But I am worried that proposed reforms will put others finding themselves in the situation I did, most of whose conditions aren’t
reversible like mine was, in risk of hardship.

The report finds that the Government’s response to the DLA consultation “presented a highly misleading view of the responses it
received”. Overall,

•       74% of respondents were against the proposals for Personal Independence Payments (PIP);
•       19% had mixed views; and
•       Only 7% supported it fully.

Worse, “the consultation process did not meet the Government’s own Code of Practice on consultation. It was two weeks shorter than
recommended and took place over the Christmas holidays. Crucially, the Welfare Reform Bill was presented to Parliament two days before the consultation ended, meaning that responses could not be taken into account when drafting legislation for Personal Independence Payments (PIP)”.

The Government claims that there has been a 30% rise in DLA claims but their own more recent figures say it is only 13%.

The report concludes that “DLA is already a cost-saving benefit. Cuts to DLA cannot cut disability, they simply shift the costs elsewhere. One in three disabled people already live in poverty and many feel proposals for PIP can only see this increase.”

It says:

“Overwhelmingly, we found that disabled people do not agree that there is a need for an entirely new benefit (PIP). It was clear that whilst disabled people do support some reform of DLA (they make many suggestions in this report) they do not want a new benefit. They believe it is a costly irrelevance during times of austerity. Disabled people are clear and emphatic – keep DLA and reform the existing benefit.”

The report is an excellent piece of research and advocacy. The disabled activists who produced it deserve great praise for their
thorough work.

I would urge everyone to read it and support disabled people in calling for a pause to Personal Independence Payments in light of this
new research. Please post links to the research and related news on Facebook and Twitter with the message “I support the #spartacusreport” between 10am-6pm today (Monday 9 January).

Update: For those who can’t get a copy of the report, it’s available here.

  • Duncan

    An excellent piece of work.  Thanks for sharing it here, Luke.

  • Guest

    Has  the government put a D notice on the BBC amd media covering this?  Something here stinks.

  • Mike Homfray

    Thanks Luke. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding about DLA and that changes are being proposed for the wrong reasons

    • Anonymous

      Sadly, of course both Blair and Brown did not think DLA was worth the price paid, Brown wanted it all stopped, then he stated  people over retirement should not have it, then he went after people in care, mostly young people who’s  only benefit was Mobility.

      But sadly all parties are out to make cuts to pay off the deficit and boy are the sick and the disabled paying the price.

  • Anonymous

    Poeple who  are seriously, even dangerously ill, have enough to contend with already, they should  certainly not have additional worries about receiving the welfare benefits they need, but I have to remind you Luke, it was that  great “Labour” figure James Purnell, in collusion with the “Labour” (now Tory) welfare “expert” David Freud who wanted DLA done away with in favour of ESA.

    It might be the Coalition who put the plans through, but it was Purnell who commissioned that report in the first place.

    I wish you well in your recovery.

    • Anonymous

      Shame mind you it was labour that allowed the bankers to get away with blue Murder, and labour that tried to attack the sick and the disabled under the guise of  work shy.

      While Brown now lives in Scotland doing nothing while being paid a wage for not turning up in his work place, you cannot make it up.

  • Anonymous

    Thankyou for sharing your experiences Luke, and hilighting such an important issue.

    As Mike H says, a lot of misunderstanding over changes, and questionable motivation
    behind it?

    I admire your courage and tenacity in campaiging and working for the party
    enormously, and I think you are an excellent spokesman for other people
    with specific needs and disabilities, as well as a great writer!

    I also wish you great luck with your steady recovery,
    and good luck with the campaign.

    Best wishes, Jo.

  • Sarah Cole

    Very clear and informative. Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    There is an ePetition available asking the govt to pause the move to PIP, you can add your name to it here:

  • Anonymous

    We are just about one trillion pounds in debt at the moment. 

    I am sorry to hear about your misfortune, Luke, and I am glad to hear that you are slowly recovering. It is very young to be struck down.

    Now let me tell you about my own hernia scare……..


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