From the TUC

The Budget and disabled people’s benefits

22 Jun 2010, by in Society & Welfare

One of the quietest announcements in the Budget Reports relates to Disability Living Allowance : “the government will introduce the use of objective medical assessments for all DLA claimants from 2013-14 to ensure payments are only made for as long as claimants need them.”

The Chancellor was rather more open in his speech, where he put this proposal in the context of concerns that “the costs have quadrupled in real terms to over £11 billion, making it one of the largest items of government spending.”The Chancellor made it clear that existing claimants will have to be re-tested to keep their benefit, and the context makes it plain that claimants can expect the new test to make sure that many of them will cease to qualify. In an attempt to justify this, Mr. Osborne spoke of the need to “continue to afford paying this important benefit to those with the greatest needs, while significantly improving incentives to work for others.”

The Chancellor seems to be a bit confused – DLA is not an out of work benefit, making it harder for disabled people to qualify for it will do nothing to improve – or worsen – incentives to work. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that disabled people will be paying the price for deficit reduction.

The government has a short memory. In 1997, the new Labour government inherited a similar initiative, the Benefits Integrity Project, which aimed to re-assess thousands of disabled people’s benefit entitlement. As news spread that disabled people were being forced into abject poverty and some were considering suicide, the government discovered that cutting benefits can quickly become very unpopular. The Daily Mail and its Sunday sister were particularly critical, and disabled demonstrators chained their wheelchairs to the gates of Parliament.

There is only one paragraph on this in the Budget Report, but it could turn out to be one of the most contentious measures in the whole Budget.

34 Responses to The Budget and disabled people’s benefits

  1. Adrian Hindle
    Jun 22nd 2010, 11:53 pm

    I think you are being generous in believing that Osborne does not know it is not an out of work benefit he purposely omitted that fact to pander to the Right and rooting out “scroungers”.Unfortunately,most people are confused about the differing benefits particularly IB/ESA and DLA.He also intimated that there was not any kind of medical assessment before you get it to engender a belief that you get it without one now.It was announced three years in advance-this is callous in the extreme.Also,a point worth considering -it is also a threat to people receiving Carers Allowance who only receive it if DLA Care is assessed as Middle or High Rate for their Caree.

  2. tracey
    Jun 23rd 2010, 6:01 am

    i agree with what you sayed i am on dla i too feel very much anxity at the monent i dont know what i am going to do i sofer with very bad depreshion after losing my little girl still born and i have a lerning dissabilty and this has made me feel realy bad that i will have no money bto pay my bills i think this is orfull buget for the disabled the chancellor dosent know what he is tarking about when he sayes we are all scrogers we are true people in need of this benrfit i am sorry it is going to put me in det

  3. tracey hancock
    Jun 23rd 2010, 6:05 am

    i agree with what you sayed i am on dla i too feel very much anxity at the monent i dont know what i am going to do i sofer with very bad depreshion after losing my little girl still born and i have a lerning dissabilty and this has made me feel realy bad that i will have no money bto pay my bills i think this is orfull buget for the disabled the chancellor dosent know what he is tarking about when he sayes we are all scrogers we are true people in need of this benrfit i am sorry it is going to put me in dept

  4. Miguel
    Jun 23rd 2010, 8:14 am

    I am a “Disabled Person” for 27 years and over the years have already been “Medically Assessed” by my own Doctor, Hospital Doctors and DSS appointed Doctors, and after all this I am still disabled for life.
    I receive the higher rate for Mobility and Care and my partner gave up his career to care for me full-time and receives Carers Allowance. (finacialy we are worse off). To qualify for DLA you are”Medically Examined” by DSS appointed Doctors who are very strict. I dont see the sense in “Re-assessing” the long term Disabled who like me have no cure and are disabled for life. This “Cavalier Attitude” of the Chancelor in this situation is going to cost even more money to “Medically Re- Assess” the already long term disabled and is going to cause so much unnecessary stress, discomfort and in many cases I’m sure, will lead to a further deterioration in health of the already long term disabled

  5. Linda Garnett
    Jun 23rd 2010, 11:21 am

    The Chancellor seems to have lost sight of the fact that many of us who are over pensionable age have already been “mediacally examined” by doctors of the DSS choosing to get Disabled Living Allowance in the first place! Why does he want us to have to go over the same old ground, several years later, when our disabilities have only got orse, not better?

  6. Gary Vaux
    Jun 23rd 2010, 11:57 am

    DLA is important to work incentives in fact – it serves the same purpose as child benefit does for families i.e it gives greater security for disabled people who move into employment because it guarantees a certain level of in-work income (as well as increasing the availability and amount of working tax credit in payment). Medicalising the claims process is good news – for ATOS the company that the DWP use to conduct medicals. But it could potentially be bad news for people with mental health conditions (who are often highly and rightly suspicious of doctors asking questions about their mental health) and people with fluctuating conditions, who will be assessed ‘as seen’ rather than having the chance to use the claim form to give a fuller picture of their lives.

    There is no mention of attendance allowance either – I suspect a further announcement as partof welfare reform which will tie in AA assessment with social care provision.

  7. collin Donaldson
    Jun 23rd 2010, 12:07 pm

    Hi you have obviously not been on the council estates in the UK. Every last person gets dla for depression & the other partner gets carers money for looking after there own spouses & children who generally have adt.
    There are millions @ it wake up & smell the coffee.
    obviouly its a bit of an inconvenience on the true claimants who may have lost limbs or have no eyesight but somebody has to weed out this parasite culture not there fault the system needs ironing out reward people for work & not reward them for being dishonest.

  8. Tokyo Gaijin
    Jun 23rd 2010, 12:23 pm

    Few people would disagree with paying a meaningful DLA to those in genuine need, but is it really possible that the number of disabled people in the UK has increased by a factor of 3 over the last 18 years ? Whilst reassessing every claimant is far from ideal how else can we be sure only those entitled to the benefit are receiving it ?

  9. Janet Saville
    Jun 23rd 2010, 12:55 pm

    I have MS and epilepsy both for which the symptoms vary considerably and I am about to reach retirement age although I have not been able to work for 8 years. I am on the highest level DLA and feel very worried now about what may happen to my benefits. I will be worried now for at least 3 years it seems. I am sure many people in similar position to me will also. It all depends on the opinions of the people assessing you and the guidelines they have been given. I am so tired of being asked the same questions over and over again as though on the 101st time I might change the answers!! The doctors even argue on what the results of my MRI scans might mean. For heavens sake!

    If the reasons for taking people off DLA is to ‘incentivise them to work’ – what relevance does that have for me at 60? An what about the jobs that don’t exist anyway?

  10. gary vaux
    Jun 23rd 2010, 1:30 pm

    I’m afraid Collin is simply wrong – and Tokyo gaijin misses the point. The reason more people get DLA is because of awareness – not because the numbers of disabled people has risen. Collin’s comments are based on stereotypes rather than fact – as anyone who has ever attempted to complete a DLA claim and application process would know. The comments on this site are the true reflection of what life on DLA is like – and incidentally, carers allowance is worth just over £50 a week for providing at least 35 hours of care per week – and is lower than JSA or any other benefit, so its hardly a ‘reward’ is it?

  11. Tokyo Gaijin
    Jun 23rd 2010, 1:58 pm

    @ Gary Vaux
    The point is there are 3x the number of people claiming DLA today as there were when it was introduced 18 years ago. I’m sure that some of this is, as you say, due to raised awareness but it’s inconceivable that that’s the whole answer. I think it’s also safe to assume that a significant amount of the increase is the result of false claims or people moving off unemployment benefits on to DLA.

  12. tracey hancock
    Jun 23rd 2010, 2:40 pm

    i very much dissagree to be called a scrouger i wish people would not use that word it upsets me and my family they all know how deprest i get from this i can go long distases on my own as i get very bad panic atacks it stared when i was buled at school and i lost my yonger brother at 20 then i was rapept when i got pregnent i treyed to end my life a few years later i lost my baby still born at 38 week but she had been dead in side me for 2weeks and i still feel vvery depest by it all this as started it all back up again the feeling of beeing bulled and raqpet again i cant stand people looking or tuching me i dont know what i am going to do as i cant traval long distaces

  13. Barry
    Jun 23rd 2010, 2:51 pm

    It is not a case of going onto DLA when unemployment BENEFIT is ended. DLA is not a BENEFIT for failed unemployed claimants in fact it’s not a BENEFIT at all!
    I have to agree that their are a few who are fraudulently claiming but they could be weeded out pretty quickly by proper investigations!
    I feel for the poor genuine people who have to go through the indignity of a medical assessment seemingly whatever level of disability they may have!
    Well thought out George, now think again!

  14. kellie
    Jun 23rd 2010, 3:02 pm

    What about carer’s of disabled children – for those who think all disabled people are scrounging – my son BECAME disabled following cancer , he is still a sick child with chronic pain problems as well as an ampuation . He is under 5 consultants , some of whom are internationally recognised specialists in their field. I gave up my job as a specialist nurse to care for him.
    DLA is as many have pointed out NOT for those out of work . When i was working it helped me to pay for a carer . Mr Cameron made good political copy from his own child’s disability , and how he understood what our lives are like. .
    How dare my son suffer the indignity of being assessed by a substandard medic working for ATOS origin when his own consultants, Physio, OT and education authority were happy to provide all supporting evidence and we allowed for all our medical notes to be used. When will this medical be done ? will people be leaving their hospital beds on active chemotherapy to PROVE they are disabled and need care ? Hoe much moneyhave i saved the government by caring for my son ?

  15. tracey hancock
    Jun 23rd 2010, 3:03 pm

    i am not been a fraudud like i sayed i am very worred about this i cant sleep i cry all the time i am very worred about this a srange dr tuching and waching me knowing i was rapet it is all in my dr notes what i have been thought it is not good reading at all by the way i use to work as a cleaner before all this i liked my job i just snapet one day when i was pregnent my mother as manic deprshon

  16. tony
    Jun 23rd 2010, 4:24 pm

    so who will be able to claim dla i do agree with some posts that people that spend their lives bying and selling drugs should be taken off this bennifit but their are people out their who really do need it and will loss it due to the questioning that the doctors are told to ask not all dissabillitys involve not been able to walk

  17. Disability allowance exists for a reason | Anne Wollenberg
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  18. Barry Culley
    Jun 23rd 2010, 8:59 pm

    I am not being cynical when I say that the move to carry out medical assessments on people applying for or in receipt of DLA is purely intended to have the benefit withdrawn from those receiving it and put out of reach of those applying for it.

    I speak with conviction because I was a victim of just such a scheme when the Tories decided to get people off Invalidity Benefit. I was examined by a doctor on behalf of what was then the Department of Social Security (DSS). He knew nothing at all about my medical history and the examination took only a few minutes. In fact he spent about three times as long calculating the mileage from my home to the hospital and back, paying me for travelling and obtaining my signature for the money. A week or so later I received a phone call from my doctor to come and see him. He had heard from the DSS that their doctor disagreed with his view that I was unfit for work and decided I was fit for limited work. I told him what happened at the ‘examination’ and he said he would write to the DSS and complain strongly. He would also request another ‘examination’ and this time he would insist that the doctor had a copy of my medical notes. In due course I was asked to attend again for the ‘examination’ and this time the doctor had my notes and carried out a proper examination. A week or so later my doctor rang to say that the results of the second examination had overturned the decision arrived at after the first examination and I had been declared unfit for work. My doctor commented that the doctors working for the DSS were simply carrying out a process of cutting back on payment of Invalidity Benefit. Some years earlier the Tories had manipulated people off the Unemployment Benefit list and on to the Sickness Benefit list (for political reasons). In due course the Sickness Benefit claimants had migrated on to the Invalidity Benefit list!

    When my DLA was awarded in 1993 it was awarded “for life”. Subsequently the wording was changed to “indefinitely”. I strongly object to becoming a pawn in yet another Tory chess game. Disabled people have more than enough to put up with in life, without being made to suffer repeated so called ‘medical assessments’. Many of us went through all this when we first applied for DLA and in a lot of cases, such as my own, we only get worse with time not better. I get Care at the lower rate and Mobility at the higher rate and I have more ailments now than I had when DLA was awarded, which is perhaps hardly surprising taking into account the fact that I will be 70 next year. I want nothing to do with Atos or any of the other people the government use to do their dirty work.

    I have read elsewhere a piece by a well qualified authority on the subject. He says that the Law will require amendment if the government want to change it. The Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 Part lll, sections 72 & 73 and the Social Security (Disability Living Allowance) Regulations 1991 Parts lll and lV are the legislation in question. If the government want to change that it would require new primary legislation approved by both Houses of Parliament.

  19. Bernie Moynan
    Jun 23rd 2010, 10:58 pm

    I always worked paid my taxes and brought up my family, due to a bothched operation that disabled me I lost my home, my business, everything I owned I can hardly walk due to the osteoporsis in my spine and after fracturing my hip, I live alone now what is going to happen to us, I have been assessed by DSS doctors, etc etc, it would be cheeper for the goverment to “put us down like amimals then we would not been seen as such a Burden of society.

  20. holly
    Jun 23rd 2010, 11:48 pm

    I may just put up a banner on a very tall building saying’ Cameron says all people with disabilities jump here’
    So depressed. I am classed with a severe mental disorder then told I am okay and do not need benefits. My doctors do not agree.
    I think it disgraceful and immoral David Cameron used his son in his campaign. The poor boy should not have been mentioned. Cameron was never at home , he chose politics.
    I do want to work and put something back but if you want more angry people out there then by all means cut benefits. The prisons may be overcrowded now but just wait and see. Also as on the blue blog on facebook a police officer said that the funeral trade will be making a good profit.The police officer may lose his jobs because of cuts.
    Just take the mask off and show yourself Thatcher!!!!

  21. Fiona
    Jun 25th 2010, 11:46 am

    Instead of cutting DLA which is paid for those who genuinely need it, the government are more needing to close the loopholes and cut benefits which continue to paid to individuals living abroad in countries such as Canada, Poland, Spain.

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  25. Marina
    Jun 27th 2010, 7:48 pm

    I’m interested in how thorough these ‘medical assessments’ are going to be. Are assessors going to follow claimants all day to see how far they can walk, climb stairs and acess public transport? Or are they going to watch while claimants take a bath to find out how long it takes them and how difficult it is for them to get in and out? If medical assessments are going to be adequately rigorous, it is going to take a very long time, and be very expensive for the government, to assess all existing and new claimants! Therefore, I think that the government are going to have to water down their proposals – or they will end up spending more money than they hope to save. Always assuming, of course, that the coalition is still in government in three years time!

  26. Gary Vaux
    Jun 27th 2010, 9:31 pm

    The medical assessment will be based on a point-scoring system, similar in style (but not content) to Incapacity Bneefit and ESA. Osborne has said that it will save 20% of the DLA budget – on what evidence? Assuming the criteria for getting the benefit doesnt change, and what is changing is the method by which its assessed, how does Osborne know that 20% of those who currently get DLA will no longer get it? Or is it simply the case that ATOS, who supply the doctors to the DWP, will be told that they have to fail at least 1 in 5 in order to meet Osbornes target? The medicals will no doubt be as basic as the ones used for ESA – a 20-30 minute chat with someone who doesnt know the medical history or the claimant, and then a report written up that bears little resemblance to the facts. It happens now with ESA and I cant see how DLA claims, handled by the same sort of process, will be any different. And cutting DLA means cutting the numbers getting carers allowance too of course – another ‘saving’.

  27. Anon
    Jun 28th 2010, 11:50 pm

    When I first heard ‘famous’ George Obsourne demands to cut or re-assessed of DLA as of 2013. Well, he is certainly NOT famous any more! There are lot of disabled people angered toward his iniatives, its like having our back stabbing. And you know what, I do not like him. What even more sicker is that David Cameron is supporting him especially (correct me if Im wrong) did he had a disabled son died 2 years ago. Surely, David must know what it is feels like living or looking disabled person?!? Its not an easy life to lead.

    I can confirm that DLA is NOT a benefit at all.

    I am profoundly deaf since birth (aged 28) and receives DLA (middle rate) and also diagnoised heart congential disease. My hearing balance changed dramatically and may possible to have major operation (cholear implant) few years time. This means a deptht counselling, therapy and adapting new environment (back to square one). Whereas my heart at previous routine check up they discovered I have heart that rhymns slowly leaving me severe tiredness, chest pain, and shortness of breath (particularly during activities such as climbing the stairs). To tends feel tired after walking a long distance or working full time.

    I have been in and out of employment since 1999. And in 2007-2008 I was employed by a company that failed set up my special phone for 8 months, yes, you heard it – 8 months. having said that before 6 months probabtion period I demanded them to sort it out otherwise it will damage my competentices. however, at 6 months probabtion period they felt extending a probabtion period was necessary becuase I was given a lack of support in term of setting up the speical phone i required. An Extendation of 3 months used and guess what, they dismissed me on ground of lack of competencies. I could not believe what I heard it was like beyond the joke. Colleagues could not believe either and supported me through appealing against them on ground unfair dismissal and lack of duty of mangement in term of reasonable adjustment. the reason why they failed is because it was costing and expensive to change to the number (telephone number) Whlist unemployed after being unfairly dismissed I felt I had my confidence knocked and fear for my future, thinking it seems unrealisitic to sustain an employment, permenantly. I discovered majority disabled people are being recruited temporary rather than permanantly. Why? Perhaps employers are too scared to recruit despite we are protected within Disabled Discrimination Act and the costs of reasonable adjustment support from Access to Work is granted. Not many employers have heard or know more about Access to Work.

    Due high unemployment in disabled catorgory since recession appeared. Who failed to spot the ‘recession’ stage, yes – a former MP. So hence why should disabled people should take a blame by having it cuts or re-assessed of DLA. I did not asked to be born disabled person. DLA helps towards my living.

    I am bloody work harder, and managed to find a job just still waiting to hear a starting date which is delaying a bit. The downside is that its only 6 months fixed contract. Then back to unemployed that I do not want to be classed. God knows for how long I will be unemployed for the longest I have been 6 months – 2 years.

    24 years ago I was told my both consultant that my DLA does not needs to re-assessed!

    What makes blood boils is that there are so many frauders claiming DLA when they ARE NOT DISABLED. Its them that needs to re-assessed every 6 months to confirm they are fit or not fit to work. If appears to be fit then DLA should be ceased.

    I certainly think that George Osbourn should wear an hearing aids then he should know how haunting yet it is to be deaf person. In fact try any other disabability that even more haunting than my case.

    I am sincerly sorry if this forum is too long to read but it is something I want to rant at No 10! I have my rights of have my voice to be heard.

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  29. Qj
    Jun 30th 2010, 4:11 pm

    I am 36 years of age, had polio at the age of 6 months which caused paralysis of my right leg. I have extremely poor mobility and use two crutches walk around. Because of one leg paralysed, other parts of body had to compensate which meant extra wears and tears, I am subsequently developed arthritis, swollen joints, pain in good leg, arms, wrists. and over weight due to inability to do proper exercise. Being on DLA enabled me to purchased a car which mean I can go to work. The announcement have made me very anxious and i am getting panic attacks that under the new rule I might not DLA which mean I will have to surrender my mobility car, which mean I will not be able to work. Whilst I recognise govt needs to tackly the financial problem, but does it have to be at the cost of poeple with disability. Does any one had medical assessment before how does it work.. Despite my doctors, physio therapists and consultants supporting my cliam, how many times do I have to prove that “hey look at me I am disabled”

  30. Barry Culley
    Jul 1st 2010, 11:59 am

    I thought it worth quoting something I found on the DWP ‘Top Stories’ website as I had not seen it mentioned by anyone. It will be of interest to those on DLA who are retired. “That’s why we’re taking the decision to reassess everyone of working age on DLA, and ensure everyone in the future goes through a proper gateway to claim the benefit.” I do not agree on reassessment at all but perhaps this may put the minds of some Pensioners at rest, particularly if they have gone through several so called ‘medicals’ carried out by Doctors appointed by the DHSS/DSS/BA/DWP or whatever the current title happens to be!

  31. jackie
    Jul 2nd 2010, 9:11 am

    I broke my back 3 years ago after an accident, i am in alot of pain all of the time and live on pain killers. i dont have problems with mobility as i find it’s much better when i’m on the move. but i have a great need for help in the home as i cannot bend at all, so find it very difficult to do things for myself which involve any kind of bending. i work, ok i only do 10 hrs a week but i work.

  32. miss manchester
    Jul 14th 2010, 9:16 pm

    I am 28years old and i am profoundly deaf, i became deaf when I contracted menigitis when i was 8yrs old.
    I do recieve DLA and it helps me get around transport wise and it helps me just to do normal everyday tasks.
    DLA is not a benifit it is a allowance which helps disabled people, I do understand that some people get fustrated about DLA claimers, but is it fair to punish genuine disabled people?, we have to go through tests everyday or our lives and we do not need to be prodded anymore.
    I hope that the genuine disabled claimers are exempt from these tests because we have enough proof with our white cane, hearing aids/sign language and wheelchairs.
    Blind, profoundly deaf and wheelchair bound should not have to go through these tests!

  33. Judy
    Jul 31st 2010, 12:12 am

    I just needed to say something about the disbelief expressed in this thread that the number of people who are disabled has tripled since DLA was introduced…

    When DLA was introdeced in 1992, assessment up until then had been done by… wait for it… medical assessment. The breakthrough with DLA was that it allowed the claimant more of a voice and looked at the care or supervision that was REASONABLY needed, not MEDICALLY needed.

    Also, over the years, some of the DWPs more outrageous decisions have been challenged and overturned by the legal system – e.g. when they suggested that people could avoid falls by staying sitting down…

    It has also become recognised within DLA caselaw that needing encouragement/ reminding/ emotional support can leave a person as ‘disabled’ as needing physical help… and the effect of these and similar judgements has been, quite naturally and justly, to increase entitlement.

    The implication that DLA is currently awarded without medical scutiny is also wholly bogus – if the DWP have any doubt about entitlement, they already have the power to subject people to assessment by their own doctors.

    The DWP’s own research suggests that the level of fraud in DLA is 0.5%… a long, long way from the 20% this cut is hoping to save.

    And let’s face it, that is what it is – a cut – at the expense of some very vulnerable individuals.

  34. Imran abbas
    Aug 16th 2010, 2:21 pm

    I want to ask that IMF AND THE WORLD BANK started prpgrammes for the rehabilitation of the disabled persons some time study from the news papers or hear that on the TV but who is implementing these all,Any body cares about it or not so i think no becouse this only remains a debateful issure where the rights been giving to the disabled persons and spcially the country like PAKISTAN.
    The fund given to them for rehabilitation they just enjoye with that money never give rights on any plateforms to the disabled persons.
    any querry about this email me my email id is ([email protected]).
    Imran Abbas