Earlier this year rumours started to circulate about New Labour plans to abolish the two main disability benefits, Attendance Allowance (AA) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
AA is a benefit for those over 65, DLA for those under 65. As these are benefits intended soley to cover the additional costs of living with a disability they are, sensibly and rightly non means tested. The qualifying conditions which all recipients must meet, have no respect for details such as financial income so neither does the benefit.
DLA and AA are difficult benefits to claim, with lengthy, personally intrusive questions to answer, but make an incalculable difference to the lives of disabled people. The prospect of removing these benefits strikes fear into the hearts of disabled people and those who care for them, but the prospect of removing these financial benefits and replacing them with 'support' from local authorities is far, far worse.
Local authorities have been rationing care for quite some time, meaning only those with the most critical or substantial care needs will qualify for support. As an example, my own care needs are classified as moderate by my local authority, which conveniently excuses them from having to provide any form of support.
A report in The Times gives an insight into the lengths that local authorities will go to to avoid the financial responsibility of meeting care needs. Mr Justice Hedley, was so appalled at two local authorities refusals to accept responsibility for the care needs of a severely ill child that he
"found it necessary to adjourn briefly so as to ensure that no wholly improper judicial observations escaped my lips"
I'm never cyncial....but if local authorities are already able to get away with refusing to fund vital care packages, then how better to save money than by removing the financial benefits of DLA and AA, to 'replace' them with local authority decided support which the local authorities can conveniently simply refuse to provide.
Only a politician would be stupid enough not to realise that the NHS will completely collapse within 24 hours of this 'clever' way to save funds. Unless of course that's what they want too?
*The DWP have unfortunately moved the link to the pdf report stating an overall 0.5% fraud rate for successful DLA claims, which as an overall percentage seems pretty low to me.