Government challenged over Disability Living Allowance

By staff writers
22 Feb 2011

Responses to the government consultation on changes to Disability Living Allowance are now being considered by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The consultation will affect at least 3 million people, and deals with one of the most important and controversial aspects of the coalition government's proposed welfare reforms.

Carers, disability organisations, neighbourhood and community agencies, faith bodies, guardians and political groups - including the Greens - have all expressed deep concern about the Coalition's intentions.

Alan Wheatley and Dr Joseph Healy, Green Party of England and Wales spokespeople on disability, commented: "The timeline given for the response to this consultation has been shockingly short. Decent housing, transport and access to socialisation are vital for disabled people. The lack of funds or services can severely impact on the extent to which disabled people can participate in the community and lead full lives."

In their response, Wheatley and Healy said: "DLA must not be income related. It must allow disabled people to be employed. And DLA must based on the social model of disability, not a medical one."

Their party's submission declared: "Disabled people should not be made to jump through hoops in order to receive the help they need. As such, some conditions and impairments should be automatically entitled to DLA, for example, quadriplegia, being blind/deaf, some forms of bi-polar disorder, and chronic pain disorder where all avenues for a ‘cure' have failed.

"In applying for DLA, accessible formats need to be used, and jargon avoided at all times. People should be asked how their conditions impact on their lives on a daily, or weekly, or monthly basis (or a combination of all three). GPs, consultants, nurses, physiotherapists, and carers could also supply supporting evidence.

"One idea would be to have one benefit which could then act as the key to a range of disability benefits and services. Once the gateway benefit is secured, applicants would no longer have to trawl through interminable pages of forms in order to get, for example, a Blue Badge, or a Freedom Pass.

"Finally, we have grave concerns about insufficiently qualified pseudo-medical interviewers from ATOS Medical Services being used. The Department for Work and Pensions should have learnt from the Harrington Report about the insensitive use of such companies and interviewers. Healthcare professionals, such as ATOS, are considered by many disabled people as mere agents of the DWP who are rewarded by their paymasters to strike as many people as possible off disability benefits."

[Ekk/3]

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