The report that must be read

January 9, 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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671212727 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: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/20968

  • 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……..

Latest

  • News Scotland have voted No to independence, say LabourList readers

    Scotland have voted No to independence, say LabourList readers

    In a few hours time, we will find out that Scotland has voted against independence – according to LabourList readers, anyway. 77% of those who took our survey this week said they thought that the outcome of today’s referendum would be a No vote. Despite polls have closed in over the past fortnight, our readers are confident that Scots will have chosen to preserve the Union. 23% think that the result will be in favour of Yes. Only two polls in […]

    Read more →
  • News Lift cap on borrowing so councils can build – say Labour PPCs, councillors and AMs

    Lift cap on borrowing so councils can build – say Labour PPCs, councillors and AMs

    A group of London-based Prospective Parliamentary Candidates, councillors and London Assembly Members have written an open letter (published in the Guardian), calling on party leadership to go further in their policy commitments when it comes to building houses. Although the letter praises Ed’s pledge that the next Labour government “will build 200,000 homes a year by 2020″, the cohort which include urge leadership to commit to lifting what they deem the “arbitrary cap [placed on councils] on borrowing to build”. […]

    Read more →
  • News Are Labour going to make the NHS the focal point of the 2015 campaign?

    Are Labour going to make the NHS the focal point of the 2015 campaign?

    Earlier this week, a poll found that Labour hold an 18-point lead over the Tories as the most trusted party on the NHS – the only topic voters consider a “major issue” that sees a Labour lead. The NHS being a crucial issue of the Scottish referendum, with both sides accusing the other of lying. Many of today’s votes rest on whether they trust Yes Scotland or Better Together’s claims about the health service. Now reports say that Labour are considering […]

    Read more →
  • Comment We stand up for human value – we proudly defend the Human Rights Act

    We stand up for human value – we proudly defend the Human Rights Act

    If you’re part of the Labour Party, or hold any similar values, you will certainly share the absolute belief in respect and dignity for everyone. I don’t think anyone in our movement, with our principles, would disagree. And so, with those common values, we are entirely right to stand up, loud and proud, for the Human Rights Act. The publication this week of Human Rights: Reflections on the 1998 Act by Jonathan Cooper in Stephen Hockman’s Law Reform 2015 (with […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Scotland Friendship and solidarity must prevail, as the fog clears

    Friendship and solidarity must prevail, as the fog clears

    The air hangs thick this morning with the referendum. Last night a deep fog rolled down across Edinburgh, but in reality it is the campaign which has blotted the vision and stopped even the keenest of observers from seeing what lies just a few footsteps ahead. The final days has provided one crucial clarification though – the No campaign is capable of great passion and powerful rhetoric. Mocked, endlessly criticised, a reputation dragged through the muck. Despite it all – […]

    Read more →