Benefits: the disabled and deserving?

In yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, Iain Duncan Smith pledged to reform Disability Living Allowance (DLA). He plans to introduce an independent medical assessment, so that only those who really need the benefit get it. More than three million people now receive this benefit, three times as many as when it was introduced in 1992.

Report from the Telegraph:

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) thinks a new, independent medical assessment might reduce the number of people awarded the benefit by around half a million. It will even get a friendly-sounding new name: the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

That all sounds sensible in principle. But look at the reasons why claimants are awarded DLA and you can see why any reform will be controversial. Statistics give a detailed breakdown of the reasons people claim. It’s a spreadsheet of heartbreak: 564,000 people claim for help with arthritis; 390,000 people with learning difficulties; 259,000 people with psychosis. Smaller groups are claiming for all kinds of reasons: 22,000 have problems with drug and alcohol abuse; 35,380 claimants are terminally ill. It is strangely affecting to see such a litany of human misery tabulated into abstraction by civil servants.

Report in the Telegraph

Jobseekers who reject help for alcohol and drug addiction face benefits cut

“Iain Duncan Smith to signal measures allowing Jobcentre Plus staff to dock allowances for claimants who refuse treatment…

…Government sources said the contract would allow Jobcentre Plus staff to say that a suspected addict is in breach of their commitments if they refuse help for alcoholism or drug addiction…”

Report from the Guardian 22 May 2012

Paralympics show sport has woken up to disability

“This year looks set to highlight the contradictions facing disabled people in our society. On the one hand, they are facing increasing marginalisation and discrimination under “welfare reform” policy and public expenditure cuts. On the other, the official rhetoric presents them as the heroes of the forthcoming London Paralympics….”

Piece by Peter Beresford for the Guardian on May 21st 2012