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.


Lisa said...

But, of course, if you get DLA before the age of 65 you get to keep it once you've turned 65. My dad is 75 and still gets HRC *and* HRM DLA because he's had CP since birth.

Naomi J. said...

Lisa: Indeed, but that's a more unusual sitation than most AA-age claimants will be dealing with. (And doesn't DLA end eventually anyway? I thought it was at 75-ish that the mobility component ended, for all claimants.)

Rosemary said...

Take a look at this too.You will note Steve from B & W is included too.We still need raise our voices about this so the govt and any future parties are aware of the feeling from those these issues affect.

Guardian this morning had this article too..

Another issue that dominated the debate, and which was also a key concern of those who attended the first roundtable, was worry over proposals to change the system of disability benefits to fund the new national care service.

The roundtable was assured that the disability living allowance (DLA) – a non means-tested benefit paid to disabled people of working age – would remain intact.

But, the roundtable was told, there was no such guarantee for attendance allowance (AA) – a non means-tested benefit paid to the over 65s to help with the additional costs of being disabled that are not met by their care plans.

One participant was opposed to any benefit disappearing: "For AA and DLA to be put at risk is a terrifying prospect." Another added: "DLA and AA are the original personal budget – and I would be terrified if they were to be merged into some local authority government system [of care and support]."

Anonymous said...

For me, if DLA was stopped I couldn't possibly be expected to cope. It is only recently I have been able to start putting the peices together in my life and learning that my disabilities don't have to be hidden. DLA for me has given me some normality to my life whereby I can take things at my own pace and pay for the things that able bodied people don't have to. I was abused from the age of 4 and at my pace have been able to recognise that it was in actual fact from much earlier than that and up to the age of 8. I have nerve damage in my bowel, bleed daily when I go to the loo a constant reminder. I was left for dead on several occassions. I have PTSD have had a head injury in 1995 leaving me with frontal lobe damage. I have arthritis in all my joints and pain in my back from a spinal anaethestic needed for a retained placenta. I could'nt even begin to think how I could possibly cope without DLA I have no family or close friends. Every day I take 120mg plus of morphine and spend most of the day in the loo or sitting or dealing with flashbacks because I have just bled badly. I have seen over the last few days comments and articles stating DLA may be stopped. I couldn't cope without it as I have no-one. I have signed the petition and would like to know what else I can do to help if it is not to late? I was in the care system from maternal abandonment and being abused also in care and taking legal action against them for lack of care and liability fills me with horror to think they could be in charge of my care componment of DLA!!

Robert said...

It's sad that this deal is being done by a supposed labour government, but the Tories who will come in at the next election have to day stated they will not go down this road. so we do have some hope, sadly not from a labour government how very very sad.
So DLA will be paid to the over 65's

Naomi J. said...

1. We have no idea what will happen at the next election. The electorate has proven itself capable of sleepwalking into chaos more than once. Disabled voters and their allies musn't let any party get in through complacency.
2. I don't trust the Tories any more than the current Labour government. They've already set out plans for the 'welfare' system that will see millions of disabled people pushed into abject poverty, and further demonised by the rest of the country - who should be standing with us, not against us. DLA won't be given any more respect by the Tories than other social issues, and neither will the rest of the social care system.