Minister doesn’t know how many people will be affected by DLA reform
Community Care has an interesting article about the government’s plans for a Personal Independence Payment to replace Disability Living Allowance. The magazine reports an amazing comment from Disability Minister Maria Miller:
Because the assessment process hasn’t been finalised we don’t have those figures. You can’t estimate the impact of something until you have finalised it.
It’s strange that the Minister doesn’t know how many people will be affected.
Because I do. Turn to Budget 2010 policy costings, published by the Treasury. Page 36 is headed “Reforming Disability Living Allowance” and it says, “the central assumption for this policy is that it will result in a 20 per cent reduction in caseload and expenditure.” That translates to about one million people losing entitlement.
That forecast may be a bit out, but we can be sure that more people are going to lose benefit than gain it. As Ms Miller says in her foreword to the consultation document, the thinking behind the proposed reforms is that “support should be targeted at those disabled people who face the greatest challenges to leading independent lives.”
This is a tremendous shame because creating Disability Living Allowance was introduced in 1992 by the last Conservative government and, unlike some other measures they were responsible for, this one improved the lives of thousands of disabled people. DLA took two pre-existing benefits and extended eligibility by introducing a new lower rate band that brought in hundreds of thousands of disabled people who otherwise would not have qualified.
In May, according to DWP statistics, of 2.7 million people who received the care component of DLA, 880,000 received the lower rate. Of 2.7 million who received the mobility component, 964,000 received the lower rate.
On this showing, far from being ‘progressive’, the current government is actually less generous than John Major’s.