Sunday, 9 August 2009

For all my readers who claim DLA for themselves or family members. Please read!

The Care Green Paper lists proposals for the future funding of social care. One of the proposals is that Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance, known as disability benefits will be abolished and the money allocated to local social service departments or a new national care organisation. The implications of the loss of this money for disabled people and their families are many. Whilst this money would then be used to provide care funding, the funding an individual receives will be subject to assessment, and it is likely to focus on the 'basics' of care provision. There is likely to be strict criteria, even where people use so-called self-directed support.

DLA/AA on the other hand is paid directly to disabled people who qualify, to be spent in any way they choose, and is aimed at meeting the extra costs of disability. Extra costs of disability has a broader definition than care, and could mean care outside of the statutory assessed and funded provision, but can also mean meeting the costs of extra heating and fuel costs, because of mobility problems, higher food costs, because of needing convenience foods or special diets, extra clothing because of extra wear and tear, more expensive footwear because of foot problems, domestic assistance often not met by LAs, or equipment to aid independence not available from statutory sources, as well as mobility needs such as extra transport costs, there are many more. The ways people use DLA to meet their needs are as individual as the people themselves, there are no restrictions, the claimant has choice, control and independence. Removing the benefit will not remove the needs, which are unlikely to fall within the official definition of care. Many disabled people have such low incomes that they have to use DLA just to meet the basic costs of living. In the most basic terms it will mean a loss of income, which for some may mean the loss of additional amounts, currently linked to DLA entitlement, within other benefits.

Disabled people and their families will suffer, lower incomes mean more poverty, people will have less freedom of choice, and less control over their lives, this will lead to a poorer quality of life for many. Care is likely to be means-tested, it is currently, where DLA is not. Means-testing means that some people in need will miss out on help, just because they have, perhaps a few pounds over the limit.

This is not, in real terms saving money, the new arrangements are likely to cost more. DLA is a very under claimed benefit, not just in terms of people not claiming, but in that people on the benefit often get less than they should, because they do not realise when they qualify for more. Do not believe the media hype, the truth is DLA fraud is very low, underpayment is much more of a problem. Disabled people are also expert in finding cost effective flexible ways of meeting their needs, the new system which will affect many disabled people and involve a huge amount of assessment and administration is likely to be much more expensive.

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