by Sir BERT MASSIE
LIKE many disabled people who have been receiving the Disability Living Allowance for many decades I assumed that when I received the benefit for life I would receive it until death.
That all ended when the Cameron government decided to abolish DLA and introduce the Personal Independence Payment which has a tighter eligibility criteria.
The intention was to reduce the number of people receiving the benefit.
One consequence is that 1,000 disabled people each week are losing their Motability car because they fail to qualify for the enhanced rate of mobility for PIP. Without this they do not qualify for a Motability car. Those who can walk more than 20 metres fail the test.
I received a letter from the Department for Works and Pensions informing me that my DLA was due to cease but I could make an application for PIP.
If I failed to do so my DLA would stop and that would be the end of the matter.
To make an application for PIP I had to phone a given number to apply for an application form. I did so on the day the letter arrived. The phone rang and rang and rang for 40 minutes. Some disabled people could not even hold a phone that long. Then it was answered. It took 15 minutes to answer all the questions. I must have passed this test because it was agreed that I could be sent an application form.
More than two weeks later the 40-page form arrived. On the front there is a letter that gives a date just less that three weeks away, saying if I have not returned the form by then my DLA will be stopped and no PIP will be awarded.
Had the form been sent to me immediately I would have had longer to complete it. Getting together the medical evidence to accompany the form takes time and not everyone can do it in three weeks. In such cases it is essential to get an extension or the application will fail. I have now posted the form and await the outcome.
My impression is that this system is designed to make it difficult for people. Forty minutes to wait for a reply on the phone would flatten the batteries of many callers using mobile phones. People with mental health issues might find it too stressful. When the 40-page form arrives many people will require help to complete it. Three weeks is not long enough.
In what is already a stressful process for many, could not the DWP behave with more efficiency and humanity?
UN’s damning report on UK
THE United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People gives the UN powers to investigate whether a member State is violating the rights disabled people enjoy under the Convention.
Following protests by disabled people in the UK about the impact of Government cuts on services for disabled people the UN has investigated the UK and has just published its report. It is a damning document.
Among other findings the UN say that the bedroom tax, cuts to disability benefits and to social care, including closing the Independent Living Fund, had systematically violated the rights of disabled people.
It called for a Cumulative Impact Assessment so the total affect on disabled people could be assessed. It also pointed out that the procedures to enable disabled people to assert their rights through tribunals and the courts had also been undermined by the Government.
The Government is required to respond to the UN Report and has already done so.
Unsurprisingly the DWP boss, Damian Green, is frothing with indignation. According to him services have improved. Social care is well funded and the Government spends £50 billion pounds on disabled people.
He justifies the hated bedroom tax and cuts to Employment Support Allowance. In fact, the response from the Government is what we have come to expect. All criticism is misguided and if people cannot get up because their care package has been removed, then that is just in their imagination.
A flippant set of half-truths means ministers can wrap themselves in the warm blanket of serene complacency, safe in the knowledge that if the lies are big enough people will believe them.
Disabled people will continue to protest but now we have an independent report from the United Nations to support our case.