Saturday, August 22, 2009

'Save Our DLA' Campaign - Some New Ideas and Thoughts...

One of my fellow DANners posted the following idea online, with another campaign action suggestion. (He's given me permission to copy his post and spread the idea around.) I love this idea, and I'm going to do as he suggests.

I have something of an idea for immediate protest, for those of us who are fortunate enough to receive DLA Mobility Component and have a Motability car, on finance or lease.

In recent days, I've taken the liberty of writing to Motability and the Minister for/of Disabled People (Jonathan Shaw) suggesting, that if my DLA care Component is ever given over to my Local Authority to 'supposedly' provide a care package for me. That, "as I seldom have enough money for care and also food and other necessities, I will be applying to cancel my Motability lease, as soon as, or, if the Government decide to divert or remove my DLA Care Component. In order that I'll have enough money to live on."

I'd maybe like to see others do the same, or similar? I think the threat alone to Motability and Government 'face', would be enough to see a complete backdown of this 'hair brained scheme' of the Government's?

Motability is seemingly worth in the region of £16 billion pounds a year to the British economy and motor industry, to say nothing of the revenue the Gov't takes in, in fuels and oil consumption from recipients! There's also maintenance and upkeep to be threaded into theses costs and the cost in human terms if some 250,000 cars were suddenly disposed of and flooded back onto the second hand market!

Worth a thought and some possibly, some action?

- wheelzuk

I would add to this suggestion of writing to the minister and/or to Motability generally, that we could CC our letters both to the chief executive of Motability and perhaps also the Transport minister. If the government doesn't care that taking away our DLA care component will have a knock-on effect on our whole lives, maybe they need to start realising that it will also have a knock-on effect on the whole economy. There are, after all, a lot of us out there...


A lot of people have been pointing me towards CPAG's published 'assurances' that DLA will not be affected. (Interestingly, they have taken down their earlier press release about this.) "It's only Attendance Allowance, so that's all right," I'm now hearing from fellow campaigners. A reminder of three things here:

1. If the government sets the precedent of taking away cash benefits and handing them over to local authorities, do we really believe they're going to stop at AA? Once a precedent is set, it's far, far easier for the government to say "It worked with AA" and remove our DLA - without having to write a new Green Paper on the issue.

2. Do we *really* trust the government on this? We've heard similar assurances on the new Employement Support Allowance that have failed to materialise. Once the government's broad phrase 'disability benefits' in that Green Paper is passed as *law*, do you really think they won't use that as a perceived mandate to get rid of DLA too?

3. If it really is 'only' Attendance Allowance that's going to be scrapped, are we actually going to sit back and do nothing because it doesn't affect (most of) us directly? The principle of independent living should apply to ALL disabled people, not just the disabled people who are under 60. An ageing population means the majority of disabled people are 60+. They need our support just as much as younger disabled people do. Maybe more, because they're being herded into care homes en masse. (I know - my father owns a nursing home. His is a very nice one, but I still wouldn't want to be *forced* to live there when I wanted at least the choice to remain living independently at home.)

ADD YOUR CAMPAIGN IDEAS in the comments! I'd love to hear what people have been doing. Me, I've been promoting the idea on every social networking medium I can find, getting my friends, family and PAs to sign up for the campaign, trying to help spread other people's ideas, and writing the odd e-mail. It's not much. (I've had swine ful - talk about 'viral campaigning', haha. I am, ergo, utterly spoonless right now). But I continue to believe that armchair campaigning and 'viral' networking like this CAN make a difference. Just look at how many thousands of people have signed up to contribute something to this one campaign. Last I heard, it was over 20,000. Now that's not bad.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

In Our Own Words: Fighting For Our DLA

What Lisy says:

Without my DLA I'd be practically housebound, unable to afford supermarket deliveries and would pretty much have no quality of life at all. Also bear in mind that most people develop some kind of impairment in old age; Attendance Allowance, a benefit for over 65s who need assistance, is currently the benefit at the top of the 'at risk' list. So signing this petition isn't just for those who are currently claiming, signing is an investment for your own future!

What BendyGirl says:

It's impossible to explain how much people like me rely upon the extra income from Disability Living Allowance... Without my DLA I would be housebound. I would not be able to afford to run a car, without which I cannot shop, access health care, collect prescriptions or pay for the care I receive. The idea of allowing local authorities to control this benefit is enough to give me nightmares for the rest of my life. Local authorities already ration care, the process is desperately stressful and only those considered to have 'critical or substantial' needs will qualify. Trying to justify oneself as disabled enough for the local authority is the most degrading thing I've ever experienced, topped off by a social worker who clearly stated he would 'ensure I lost my entire care package'...

What I said:

Benefits and Work sent me the following e-mail. They're looking for 1000 people to sign up before they start hardcore campaigning, in order that there are enough people on board to make a different. I think their campaign is massively important, given the serious threat to our Disability Living Allowance*/Attendance Allowance** and other benefits.

DLA was established, after years of research, because the costs of living as a disabled person in a barrier-filled world organized by and for non-disabled people were considered to be so high. The estimated costs of disability that came out of this research were far, far higher than what is actually now given to DLA claimants. It was also emphasised that DLA should not be means-tested, because the costs of disability are high whether a person is extremely poor or generally has enough to live on.

Yet the government is proposing either means-testing DLA and AA, or removing it altogether. Their proposal to put the money in the hands of local councils is TERRIFYING, especially to those of us who have experienced first-hand the way that council-funded care has been limited, cut and removed from a majority of disabled people. Councils would leave DLA claimants without enough money either to fund their care or to cover their disability-related costs. The end result of this could well be the death of the poorest disabled people. Do we want to live in a society where the richest are subsidised to the tune of millions (HBOS et al), while the poorest people with the highest costs are left without enough money to fund their care, to support their mobility needs or potentially even to eat?

Benefits and Work's e-mail about their campaign, detailing their campaign, is copied below. As of this morning, they have over 5000 people signed up to this campaign. We need more people involved, because not all disabled people have the energy, resources, money or access needed to campaign on this issue. Ironically, and usefully for the government, the fact that we are disabled could lose us our disability benefits. So we need YOU.


Claimants have just 100 days to prevent their DLA and AA being abolished.

A government green paper has revealed proposals to stop paying ‘disability benefits, for example, attendance allowance’’ and hand the cash over to social services instead.

Under the plan, current claimants would have their disability benefits converted to a ‘personal budget’ administered by local authorities and used to pay for services,– not to spend as they wish.

Once the green paper consultation period ends in 100 days time, if an almighty row has not been raised, it is likely that both major political parties will see the lack of outrage as a green light to end both DLA and AA.

We’re looking for a minimum of 1,000 claimants, carers and support workers to join our campaign to save these benefits from being abolished. Find out how you can take part from this link:

We know that many people will take false comfort from the fact that, unlike AA, DLA is not specifically named as being for the axe. But if the government was planning only to abolish AA it is extremely unlikely that they would refer constantly throughout the green paper to 'disability benefits', a term which includes not just AA but also DLA.

Others will dismiss this as just another idle discussion document and our concerns as scare mongering. But it’s much more than that.

36 meetings have already been organised around the country for people working in government and the caring professions to meet to be told about the setting up of a new National Care Service which would oversee the system. In addition, a stakeholders panel of more than 50 voluntary sector organisations, trades unions and academics has been established to offer advice to the government.

Some organisations and individuals, such as RNIB and welfare rights worker Neil Bateman writing for Community Care magazine, have already voiced their alarm.

But not every disability organisation is opposed to the proposals and some even agree with them.

In a press release, Disability Alliance has welcomed the publication of the green paper and said that it 'looks forward to working alongside Government and all the other stakeholders in bringing these plans into fruition.' They have even said that they agree that there is a case for 'integrating disability benefits such as attendance allowance' into the new system.

One thing everyone does seem to agree on is that huge cuts in public spending will have to take place in the next few years as a result of the credit crunch and global recession.

Political parties are desperately looking for the softest targets to be the victims of these cuts. Dismissing the green paper’s proposals as hot air and not worth worrying about could be the costliest mistake you ever make.

Find out more about the proposed abolition of DLA and AA and how you can join our campaign to fight back:

The government's green paper on care threatens to remove our disability benefits, currently given to us to cover our disability living expenses, handing the money over to local councils (so that they can treat us in the way BendyGirl describes above). This would be a disaster. DON'T LET IT HAPPEN. Join the campaign.

And to end with more reasons, in our own words, why we can't lose this benefit - Batsgirl says:

The reason DLA and AA are given as money and don't require receipts and suchlike to prove how the money was spent, is because of the huge diversity of disabilities and living conditions it covers, and because the expenses don't always work out that neatly.

Let's explore an example: grocery shopping. I have to pay more for my grocery shopping than an able-bodied person.

First of all, I have to pay for home delivery. I rarely have the spoons to manage to get all the way around a busy, bright, noisy, complicated supermarket, even with a mobility scooter - much less to then be able to get myself and my shopping home, and then immediately put it all away as well. To someone with a condition that makes moving about painful, who has difficulty lifting and carrying, who becomes tired very quickly, or who is easily confused, that's a triathlon.[...]

I had typed as far as my ninth point before I realised I'd gone a bit off course and deleted most of it. Hopefully I've demonstrated my point: disability-related expenses crop up in unusual ways and aren't always possible to calculate - which is why getting DLA or AA in the form of extra money to be spent at the claimants' discretion is utterly invaluable.

*DLA is given to claimants up to the age of 65 who have significant care and/or mobility needs.
**Attendance Allowance is the equivalent benefit for those over 65 - but there is only a care component, no mobility. As far as I can tell, this is because people over 65 are expected to have mobility problems. Nice.