As a result of my post on the threats to Disability Living Allowance, one of my regular readers contacted me to say that she had contacted her local MP raising concerns about the proposed changes to DLA. She has kindly given me permission to publish her comment and the response from her local MP here:-
Thank you for this post it prompted me to write to my own MP. You really empowered me to do something about it-so thanks. I really do hope she continues to fight this case- I have since written again to her urging a few more important points. Here is a copy of her reply
“Dear Ms Day
Thank you for your e-mail regarding ‘A report on the proposed changes to Disablity Living Allowance’.
Since being elected as MP for East Lothian in 2010, many constituents have contacted me with serious concerns about the Government’s proposals for reform of DLA.
The government’s Welfare Reform Bill legislates for the biggest change to the welfare system for over 60 years. The benefits system should be simple and supportive, however, sadly all too often this is not the case.
Like the authors of the report that you sent me, I am concerned that the stated aims of the reforms are to cut the amount of DLA claimants by 20% to save £1 billion by 2014/15.
This arbitrary cut is likely to leave thousands of working age disabled people unable to meet the additional costs that they incur as a result of their disability and it will also likely lead to an increase in the number of people living in disability poverty.
For example, I spoke at a conference in Musselburgh last year and met with people who are in receipt of the lower rate of DLA, which is to be abolished. Many of the people I spoke to are in employment, but without this in work benefit would be unable to keep working. This doesn’t fit with the supposed claims of the Government as we will all lose out.
Indeed, the decision to focus on ‘those with the greatest need’ risks leaving a large number of people without any help at all. DLA is a vital source of support for those who don’t qualify for social care, but nevertheless face significant costs and barriers to participation as a result of their condition.
That is why I have made representations on behalf of my constituents to DWP ministers on numerous occasions, both in writing and in the chamber of the House of Commons, to urge them to rethink their plans.
In addition to this, I made a formal submission to the Government’s consultation on DLA reform where I outlined my objection to the government’s proposed 20% cut in the number of DLA claimants and the removal of the mobility component of DLA for people living in residential care.
I cautiously welcomed the Government’s announcement that it no longer plans to remove the DLA mobility component from people in residential care homes. The news indicated that the Government was finally beginning to listen to Labour MPs, disability campaigners and, most importantly, the people whose lives will be affected by their hastily conceived and ill-advised plans.
As the report that you sent to me states: “In the 60s, disabled people told governments that there should be ‘nothing about us, without us.’ Sadly, over 40 years on we must produce a report that clearly reminds politicians of this principle.”
Please be assured that, together with my Labour colleagues, I will continue to fight to protect the rights of the most vulnerable in our society and I will continue to look for opportunities to drive this issue home in Parliament. I am aware that DLA reforms are being discussed in the House of Lords this week.
Thank you again for contacting me about this important issue. Should you require my assistance in the future then please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Fiona O’Donnell MP