I get DLA. It pays for my car. If I didn't have the car, I would probably be a bit fitter. But I would struggle to play a full and active role as a parent. I would probably find working as a journalist very difficult too.n As a paraplegic, I am unlikely to lose my DLA. It's not hard to pass medical assessments when your legs resemble those of a half-melted Action Man.
But for many people, there is a real anxiety at the prospect of losing this support. People in care homes, for example, often rely on the DLA to provide them with some level of independence, and they Government have already announced that they will no longer qualify.
But the proposed changes to DLA need to be seen in a wider context. Over the coming months and years, cuts look set to profoundly affect independence and quality of life for many disabled people and carers.
- The removal of funding through Access to Work for small businesses, self employed disabled people, and middle companies will result in fewer disabled people being able to work and contribute to the economy.
- Other benefits have been frozen which could mean an effective cut of 15% over the five year term of this Government.
- The 27% cut to local Government spending is certain to affect funding for specialist schools, hospices, car homes and care packages for those still living in their own homes.
- The end to security of tenure in Local Authority Housing beyond two years. Where do people go then? The UK already has an acute shortage of accessible housing in both the public and the private sector.
- The end of the Independent Living Fund, forcing more people into a care system already struggling to cope.
- Employment Support Allowance (which replaced Incapacity Benefit for new claimants in 2008) will be limited to one year.
- Housing Benefit to be cut to 20% below market rates.
In practice, the changes will affect a section of society who are more likely to be poor and socially excluded than any other group. Around a third of disabled adults live in low income households, and only one third are in paid work.
I'm fortunate. I'm a gobby cripple with great support from family and friends. I don't get Incapacity Benefit. I chose to come off IB, even though the vagaries of freelancing means there are times when I would probably have been better off on benefits. Still, I am able to pursue something approaching a career. But I'm also part of a section of society that is more likely to be disadvantaged, and who often struggle to be heard in the wider political debate.
It's easy to shout loudly about benefit fraud and the 'Nanny State', but a small amount of scrutiny soon reveals that the majority of those affected by the cuts will be people who depend on relatively modest state support to allow them a reasonable quality of life.
We need to choose what is important. To put the deficit in context, have a look at this excellent graphic from David McCandless at http://www.informationisbeautiful.net
(click on the image to enlarge)
This post can also be found here
Originally posted as part of the One Month Before Heartbreak Campaign Jan, 2011