Reforms to disability living allowance risk widespread poverty

Cuts to the disability living allowance (DLA) will leave disabled people, their carers and their children in poverty, says the TUC today (Friday) in its submission to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) consultation on the benefit which closes today. Disabled people – and those living with and caring for them – are more likely than non-disabled people to face poverty and restricted chances in life, says the TUC. Its submission argues that the current failing of the allowance is not that it is paying too much, as the government believes, more that it is not generous enough to provide disabled people with a decent standard of living. The TUC believes that limiting the different rates of the allowance will mean many claimants could lose the benefit. The new allowance due to replace the DLA – the personal independence payment – is much less generous and will be available to far fewer people, and seems to have been designed primarily to cut government spending. DLA claimants are all too often portrayed as malingering benefit dependants, but fraud is rare. Recipients of the current benefit rely on it to pay for basic food and accommodation. Any cut in the allowance would reduce the living standards of disabled people, and risk leaving them and their children in permanent poverty, says the TUC. In addition, the TUC is concerned about changes to the mobility component of DLA, which could see older disabled people particularly hit by the loss of vital income, and left isolated in care homes and hospitals. Many younger people who rely on this money to access the community and live a fulfilled life will also be adversely affected, says the TUC submission. TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “These proposals clearly show that the government is targeting some of society’s most vulnerable people to pick up the cost of the recession. “We are very definitely not all in this together – while the champagne corks pop in the City as yet another round of mega bonuses is announced, disabled people are facing harsh cuts to their already meagre support allowance. “Taking away this vital financial aid will consign thousands of disabled people and their families to a life of poverty. “As government slashes local authority budgets, councils will be forced to fall back to providing only the services they are bound to do by law, axing discretionary spending on support schemes and assistance for disabled people.” The TUC is calling on the DWP to carry out an urgent investigation into the impact of the proposed reforms to the DLA on carers. The submission says that not only will carers be affected by the whole family’s lower income if the person they care for loses entitlement to benefit, but these changes could also affect their eligibility for carer’s allowance, carer’s premium and other vital benefits.

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