' the Woodlouse: How Disabilty Living Allowance helps


Monday, 16 January 2012

How Disabilty Living Allowance helps

Back to the Welfare Reform Bill today, and in particular the changes to Disability Living Allowance (DLA).  This benefit (which is not an out-of-work benefit: in many cases it helps people stay in work, or in my case as a carer it helps provide things for Anna which enable me to leave the house to work myself) provides money to help disabled people with the extra costs of care and mobility.

It is estimated that only 0.5% of DLA claims are fraudulent; the government plans to reduce spending on DLA by 20%.  It is unavoidable that this will mean removing the benefit from some who have genuine and serious need of it.  The basic way that reduction in the number of claimants will be achieved is by changes in the assessment criteria, to make it harder to qualify.  For example, under the Personal Independence Payment/PIP (which will replace DLA), if a person can walk up to 50 metres, even if they can only walk up to 50 metres with the use of aids (including a walking frame) they will only qualify for the lower rate of mobility assistance.  This ignores the very high cost of all specialist mobility equipment; more importantly it fails to provide for the large number of people who might just make it 50 metres using aids but would require a wheelchair to go further than this.  Many would require an electric wheelchair or someone to push them beyond 50 metres - both options which entail very cost.

There are many more examples, but these are described better elsewhere.  For a good starting point see this article in the Guardian, or this article in the Daily Mail.  For further reading see this blog.  Links to the Responsible Reform report are at the bottom of my last post on DLA changes.

The campaign rallying around the Responsible Reform report (online and on twitter under #spartacusreport) is not asking for disability benefits to remain exactly as they are.  We recognise that reform is needed.  But as the report title suggests reform needs to be genuinely responsible.  The urgent aim is to have the legislation paused for 6 months so that the changes can be implemented sensibly and without causing harm to those most in need.  Please sign this petition calling for just that: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/20968. Anybody wanting to support further can contact their MP or Lords to ask them to call for a pause and to support positive amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill.  See here: http://www.mind.org.uk/blog/6275_tweet_to_defeat_new_pip_will_fail_people_with_mental_health_problems

Today disabled people and their carers are stating the positive effect DLA support has on their lives, and what they will lose if that support is withdrawn.  These can be found on twitter under #spartacusstories or collated here on a blog: http://spartacus-stories.blogspot.com/

Here is Anna's (my wife's) comment on the support she receives via DLA:

My DLA money helps me in many different ways. I suffer from both physical illness and mental illness, which makes these things even more important (fibromyalgia, arthritis of neck and lumbar spine, chronic pain, bipolar disorder).  The different conditions often trigger the symptoms of each other. Below are a few of the ways DLA helps me.

Care:  it enables me to pay for help twice a week with changing, showering and dressing at the local sport centre when I attend disabled swimming lessons.  Without this help I get stuck in my clothing and fall over a lot.  It also helps when my husband is away as he is my main carer.  Enables me to be able to pay for private counseling as I have reached the limit I’m aloud on the NHS.  This helps me keep anxiety in check and helps me regulate manicness.  It helps buy microwave ready meals for when my husband is away, or is working at mealtimes, so that I can still eat; these are expensive as I have to eat ‘free-from’ wheat and dairy-free foods.

Equipment:  it helped me be able to buy my walker, wheelchair and mobility scooter.  None of which are cheap.  All of this equipment allows me to be more independent and covers all areas that I need help with my mobility.  Wetsuit and other thermal clothing to wear to keep me warm when in the pool, to prevent muscle spasms and increased pain.

Exercise:  it enables me to pay for disabled swimming lesson and hydrotherapy classes, both of which are vital to keep me at a basic functioning physical level.  I also gain a lot socially from this as our group has many different disabilities, we are all able to understand what each other is going through and have developed a supportive bond as we see each other twice a week

No comments:

Post a Comment