Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Save our DLA

It's impossible to explain how much people like me rely upon the extra income from Disability Living Allowance. My award ends in November 2010 and already I am worrying whether it will be re-awarded or removed because I've made a mistake on the form and not managed to translate the everday difficulties I experience into the required language of a DLA form. 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"
DLA pays for things those without a disability take forgranted. I can't keep myself warm, despite the mild summer weather I require a hot water bottle to keep warm at night, and often additional heating. I can't clean up properly, can't change my bed, work a hoover and many basic household tasks. I use my DLA to pay for the additional gas and electricity, and to pay my carer. I use my DLA to buy food I can prepare for myself, I can't chop anything up so that means expensive, pre prepared vegetables, pricey ready meals etc.
Please sign up to this campaign. We the genuinely disabled understand and share the wider public anger about benefit fraud but beseech you not to be blinded by that into allowing the genuinely disabled to suffer from the loss of a benefit that is quite literally life giving.
Thank you, Bendy Girl X

Via Lisybabe & lilwatchergirl
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 DLA/AA 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, detailing their campaign, is copied below. They have 300 people signed up to the campaign so far. Help them get to 1000, and then we can start campaigning.

Ideas for smaller-scale campaigns to support this one could be thought up and discussed here, too...

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:

Please sign. 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!


Casdok said...

I have signed.
Local council - yes that is very scary.

Clairwil said...

Looks like the Disability Alliance are backtracking....

I still don't trust them though after their support for ESA.

Claire said...

consider it done

lilwatchergirl said...

I've quoted from this post in my own blog post. Hope you don't mind. Your summary of what you'd be unable to do without DLA, says it all.

I'm glad the disability blogging community is publicising this.

Achelois said...

How come i haven't heard about this before! I have a DLA award for life and simply could not cope without it. Bearing in mind our local council has been told they have to save 50 million pounds it seems likely that they simply can't afford this change anyhow! The logistics of doing the change would probably be a fiasco similar to the CSA! Costing millions - why change something thats not broken. Off to sign.

Working Class Hero said...

Already done. In a moment of public service I didn't expect from a councillor, one such put this in a letter to the local free rag. I've emailed it to everyone I know in the hope of getting a few more 'signatures'.

Kahless said...

Thanks for letting us know. My partner gets DLA. I can testify that disablity is expensive. My partners new wheelchair is going to cost £3k. Electric wheels an extra £4k. And that is with no vat!

mat said...

there isnt enough support for disabled people, and the dla forms are so complicated, its worth getting welfare rights to help fill them out.