Wednesday, June 23, 2010

DLA: Clearing Up Confusion

As there seems to be widespread confusion about yesterday's budget changes to disability benefits it is worth restating certain facts before giving further opinion. 

The Chancellor, George Osbourne is proposing changes to Disability Living Allowance (DLA). He intends to introduce a medical for all claimants, including existing claimants from 2013. Osbourne has predicted this change to DLA will save the government £1.4 billion by 2015.  The agenda is clear; to save money. 

DLA is a NON means tested benefit and this will not be affected by the proposed changes. DLA is a basic recognition that to be disabled means to bear extra, unavoidable costs. DLA is in two parts, a care component and a mobility component. DLA is not an out of work benefit, had they wanted to the Cameron's would have been entitled to claim DLA for their profoundly disabled son Ivan. Many of those in receipt of DLA work in either full or part time roles, which they would not be able to do so without the extra financial support DLA provides. The costs of disability don't go away because someone is able to enter the workplace, if anything the costs associated with disability often rise when someone is working as they have less time and energy to deal with daily living tasks than they did when they were not working. For an explanation of why we have DLA and why it would be an expensive mistake to alter entitlement, see this blog.

The Department of Work and Pensions own statistics* cite the overall fraud rate for Disability Living Allowance as being less than 0.5%, compared to the 0.8% of offical error the DWP themselves admit to making. So, according to the official figures, less than 0.5% of those claiming DLA are considered to be fraudulent. Compare that to the much higher rates of fraudulent claims in Income Support of 2.9%, Incapacity Benefit at 1%, or Jobseekers Allowance at 2.8%**. The only benefit which has an overall fraud rate of 0% is the state retirement pension.

George Osbourne proposes to save £1.4billion within the next 5 years by introducing medicals for a benefit with the lowest fraud rate of any. It's difficult to see where those savings can be made other than by making the already rigorous criteria for claiming DLA even more onerous, particularly as the previous government estimated that an additional 1.7 million people would require care and support by 2026. Even using that as a very rough estimate it seems fair to suggest that some 400, 000+ people will require the kind of support provided by DLA over the next 5 years, making it even more difficult to see where that £1.4 billion could be saved.

There is a great deal of understandable public anger about workshy people claiming multiple sickness benefits to avoid work and live a supposedly cushy life of tax payer funded ease. Against this background many have welcomed reforms to DLA, assuming that it will do a great deal to address such problems. It cannot be stated often enough that reforming DLA to include medicals will do NOTHING to alter this problem as DLA is a non means tested benefit claimed by disabled people to help with the additional costs of disability. If anything, making it more difficult to claim DLA will force some disabled people out of the workplace and onto out of work benefits such as Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance (the benefit which is replacing Incapacity Benefit) 

*Table 2.1, page 8 of the report. 
**Please note, figures quoted are for fraud alone, not fraud & error which is a considerably higher percentage as it includes genuine mistakes made by claimants and mistakes made by the DWP themselves.


Fire Byrd said...

Thank you BG for this explanation. It doesn't as ever make any sense and will just cost uneccessary money to prove what often is blindly obvious.
But it all makes for good headlines, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

While not totally related to this post, it still reveals yet another failure of the system.

Anonymous said...

Ok so how does this work if the DWP have just awarded your DLA with the words "indefinately" rather than a renewal date? Without my DLA I wouldn't with the expense that having a long term disability generates! I didn't choose to have a disability-I just have to live with it! Taking away my DLA will make it harder not easier!

forever learning said...

Excellent post - thank you. Yes thank you for the work that you have put in to investigating this topic and producing this post.

Anonymous said...

I think Mr Cameron should read this. Perhaps he may learn something.

DeathWalrus said...

[i]Anonymous said...

"I think Mr Cameron should read this. Perhaps he may learn something. (7:11 PM)"[/i]

David responds [i](in between cleaning his monocle and polishing his top-hat)[/i]: "I was elected to lead, not to read!"

Tbh I had no doubts as to the conservatives intention; the problem is not that labour were any different but the conservatives will destroy the welfare system in a more competent if not very disconcerting manner.

(Much in the same way Thatcher was the one-horsewoman of the apocalypse in the 80's. Death, famine, pestilence and war rolled into one highly efficient and evil package!)

I doubt labour would have had any differing long-term aim, the whole system of party-politics is one giant race-fixing scam these days. They would have just been slightly different in their appproach to the same goal.

I just hope my insurance costs will have fallen enough by 2013 that I can afford to put an ancient peugeot automatic on the road when they steal my DLA and therefore motability car off me.

Oddly enough; Osbourne's budget and conservative policy is a spitting image of the ten planks of the communist manefesto:

Creating a welfare system with high dependence due to artifically inflated basic living costs then; conducting massive purges to force the proles to keep in-line for the most basic of hand-outs they can get.

The catch-22 "work-reated activity" in ESA is another example of this that will soon go mainstream:

They will tamper with the already highly-corrupt ATOS medical-assesment system to ensure no more than a token few get exempt from "work-related activity" even when most are not capable of sustaining the said activity.

When they are unable to keep up with the mandated "work-related activity" the claimaint gets kicked off ESA as they are contractually obliged to take part by consent given when they submitted their claim.

If they do manage to just about manage it; they then find themselves assesed as "fit-for-work" and likewise loose the ESA.

I don't like to sound so bleak, but we are going up the proverbial creek and cannot afford to budget for paddles in advance. :-(

Anonymous said...

I believe the Camerons did claim DLA benefit for their son. He certainly made references to them filling out the notoriously lengthy DLA form.

Anonymous said...

Its bad enough that I am terminally ill, and the drugs that could put my cancer into remission are not funded so I cannot have, but the fact that I am on DLA makes me a scum bag and scrounger in the public eye. I don't obviously have bits missing or hanging off me so therefore I must be 'putting it on' for the benefits. Try a day in my skin when the morphine is barely touching the sides of the pain I'm in and worry from one day to the next how to just make ends meet and keep the roof over my head. I'm not just worried about my DLA being taken away I am absolutely terrified.

southernmonkey said...

The hole thing makes me sick,my wife who has had DLA for the last three years is going through the process again, she is 35 and has some sort of crippling arthritis,actually we are on the third specialist who has not got a clue and non of them will diagnose her,therefore no medication has been given to slow down the process so obviously after three years she has become a lot worse,it has now been three months since the start of this renewal claim and they are still undecided,it is a vicious circle causing stress which most know actually aggravates arthritis,ithas been hell,have contacted the local mp who informed us to go to the CAB as there are several words that need to be put on the form and you then get it easier.typical cycle of politics.

Anonymous said...

Dont fool yourself that the changes are to reduce paperwork and to avoid error they are in reality purely ideological based on the belief that all the so called "Lower Classes" are workshy, skiving, lazy individuals. If DLA was restricted to those who attended Public Schools or were Bankers there would be no problems whatsoever. Watch how the limitation on Child Benefit to those earning below £40K will suddenly disappear as too difficult to administer when the reality is that withdrawing the benefit would effect the middle classes. If the recommendation was that it should be abolished for those earning LESS than £40K it would have been implemented immediately on the basis that those sort of people will only spend it on beer and ciggarettes

Anonymous said...

I hope the person which set this site up has children and they all get multiple sclerosis . And they can be considered scum and refused benefits well there children are left to rot. This is the most vile site I have had the misfortune to see. Be careful what you wish for.

Anonymous said...

I live in Glasgow and personally know several fraudulent claims for DLA. People claiming they are this and that. These supposed illnesses are ones you can not disprove, surprise, and they have been career scroungers with a set plan to get on DLA. Some are following the example.

It is a question of them purposefully telling a story and sticking to it. Hey presto a few months, maybe even an initial knock back, and a few vistits to a specialist and you are now signed off as not fit to work with no need to sign on or look for a job you could do. Partners claiming care allowance when they could work.

I work over 60 hours a week and earn less per annum than them and I still have to pay rent, council tax etc off that smaller income. One specific claiment is pulling in 530 a week between various benefits. This is not including council tax, rent payments.

A lot more people lie than the government would like to admit and you can not call them in it, you just have to take their word on it. Those who properly need it there is no objection, but if I was that way inclined I could get on DLA by following their example, I may even join them as I definitely can not beat them.