Responsible Reform – Executive Summary

This is the Executive Summary from Responsible Reform – A Report On the Proposed Changes to Disability Living Allowance, researched, written and published by disability rights campaigners and which can be downloaded in full here

Executive Summary

1 This report is a comprehensive presentation of the most relevant evidence available on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and the proposals to replace it with a new benefit, Personal Independence Payments (PIP). It gathers together existing information and analyses over 500 group responses to the Government’s Response to Disability Living Allowance reform (obtained under FOI request 989).

2 The report is entirely written, researched, funded and supported by sick and disabled people, who came together through social media to share their experiences, skills and talents. It was felt to be vitally important that with such sweeping reform of every kind of support we rely on going through Parliament, there was a need for a transparent, fact-based analysis of available data that had been presented by us.

3 We argue that reform must be measured, responsible and transparent, based on available evidence and  designed with disabled people at the very heart of decision-making. Currently, we do not believe this to be the  case.

4 We find that the Government’s response to the DLA consultation presented a highly misleading view of the responses it received. Overall,

  • 74% of respondents were against the proposals for PIP;
  • 19% had mixed views; and
  • Only 7% supported it fully.

5 We find that the consultation process did not meet the Government’s own Code of Practice on consultation. It was two weeks shorter than recommended and took place over the Christmas holidays. Crucially, the Welfare Reform Bill was presented to Parliament two days before the consultation ended, meaning that responses could not be taken into account when drafting legislation for PIP.

6 We find that the evidence does not support a 30% rise in DLA claims relevant to PIP as claimed by the Government throughout their consultation and Impact Assessments. The figure is actually 13%. These figures were not made clear to parliamentarians as they debated the bill, despite a Government report being signed off in May 2010. Government are still using the 30% figure despite admitting that it gives a “distorted view”.

7 We cannot conclude that DLA receipt alone stops sick or disabled people from working, as claimed by the Government.

8 With reference to the specific questions asked in the Consultation on DLA reform, we find that there is overwhelming opposition to most of the Government’s suggestions for reform. Opposition is so clear in many cases, that we believe that the Government must pause this reform until it can be reconsidered.

9 Taking each question, the responses for and against are as follows:

Changing rates of “care” from 3 to 2 92% Oppose / 8% Support

We find this part of the Government’s response to be clearly misleading and that it fails to respond to the views and concerns of disabled people.

Should automatic qualifications to DLA stop? 87% Oppose / 13% Support

We dispute the Government’s interpretation of the data in this section. The Government response overrides the consultation.

Should the qualifying period be changed from 3 months to 6? 98% Oppose / 2% Support

This is almost unanimously opposed. The Government fails to take the views of disabled people into account and far from improving equality law as claimed, may be contravening their human rights.

Introduction of new Assessments 90% Oppose / 10% Support

We reject the Government’s interpretation of the data and found overwhelming rejection of a WCA-style assessment. This section provoked the most responses and the highest concern in the entire consultation.

Change to the Review System 92% Oppose / 8% Support

The Government fails to respond to the suggestions made by disabled people in this section.

Should any aids a person uses be taken into account? 88% Oppose / 12% Support

The Government response is misleading and fails to take the concerns of disabled people into account.

New change-of-circumstance system involving sanctions 88% Oppose / 12% Support

The Government fails to report disagreements or respond to concerns in this section.

Should advice and support be compulsory? 94% Oppose/ 6% Support

We totally reject the wording of this part of the Government’s response. Disabled people are absolutely clear that this benefit should not be condition.

Should “one-off costs” be funded from DLA 36% Oppose / 64% Support

We call for clarification on what this question actually means. The Government fails to address any concerns in this section.

Removal of Mobility Allowance for care home residents 100% Oppose / 0% Support

This has now been rescinded.

Should passporting be “streamlined” or removed from DLA? 99% Oppose / 1% Support

This issue had one of the highest responses. Passporting was almost unanimously supported. The Government fails to mention that the Independent Living Fund and Severe Disability Premiums will be abolished, funds which support the most profoundly disabled. This contradicts Government promises to “protect the most vulnerable”.

Should more be done to share information between departments? 46% Oppose / 54% Support

The Government fails to mention overwhelming opposition to single assessments for different benefits. Furthermore, we found evidence that this appears to already be happening before legislation for PIP has been passed.

10 We find overwhelming opposition to an ESA style of Assessment for DLA (Work Capability Assessments).
The Government presents no evidence that this is “the best way forward” as they claim and we call on the
Government to reconsider.

11 Equality Impact and Human Rights

We find that :

  • The Government assessment fails to note the impact on women
  • The Government assessment fails to note the impact of those with mental health conditions
  • The Government assessment fails to note that the impact on disabled people will be negative.

We note that disabled people’s rights are protected under:

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • The International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
  • UN Convention on the rights of people with disabilities, Articles 28, 26 & 4 (UNCRPD)The Disability Discrimination Act, 1995
  • The Equality Act, 2010

Respondents to the consultation repeatedly warn that plans for PIP may be in breach of some or all of these.

12 Despite not being asked in the consultation, respondents felt strongly enough to mention that this was:

  • A change motivated only by cost.
  • There is a lack of clarity over future plans for children and the over-65s.
  • It would be prohibitively expensive to implement and administer (£675 million).
  • It would cause greater pressure on social care services and the NHS.

13 Overwhelmingly, we found that disabled people do not agree that there is a need for an entirely new benefit.
(PIP). It was clear that whilst disabled people do support some reform of DLA (they make many suggestions
in this report) they do not want a new benefit. They believe it is a costly irrelevance during times of austerity.
Disabled people are clear and emphatic – keep DLA and reform the existing benefit.

We find that much more could be done to address the rise in mental health conditions, which account for a
large part of the rise in DLA claims. We urge the Government to do more to support, treat and understand
these conditions. We believe money spent on introducing an unpopular benefit (PIP) would be better spent
trying to alleviate some of the human suffering that these conditions cause. If this helps to stem the rise in
DLA claims as a result, then the policy will have been doubly successful.

15 In Conclusion, we remind the government that DLA is already a cost-saving benefit. Cuts to DLA cannot
cut disability, they simply shift the costs elsewhere. One in three disabled people already live in poverty and
many feel proposals for PIP can only see this increase. We find the Government’s response to the DLA
consultation highly misleading throughout.

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