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

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