The UK Government has been accused of deliberately concealing the extent of opposition to reform of a key disability benefit. Independent analysis undertaken by a team of disability campaigners has claimed that consultation on the future of the Disability Living Allowance was thick with criticism from disabled people’s organisations, charities and individuals, but many of these concerns were concealed.
The research team analysed 500 responses to the consultation on the future of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), after requested them under the Freedom of Information Act. The resulting report, dubbed the Spartacus report, claims to reveal the true level of disquiet towards disability reforms. The report details what researchers describe as “overwhelming opposition” to replacing DLA with a new Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The Government plans to cut spending on DLA/PIP by 20 percent.
“They reveal aspects of DLA reform were strongly criticised in consultation responses from disabled people’s organisations, charities and individuals. Notably 98% of respondents objected to the qualifying period for benefits being raised from three months to six months, 99% of respondents objected to Disability Living Allowance no longer being used as a qualification for other benefits and 92% opposed removing the lowest rate of support for disabled people,” reported The Herald Scotland.
“Looks as if the government’s been found out lying and misleading the people on the subject of disability allowances,” tweeted Stephen Fry.
You’re busted! A hard-hitting blog posting on Diary of a Benefit Scrounger insisted that Spartacus shows that “[t]he Government broke its own code of consultation over the DLA reform. The Government has entirely misrepresented the views submitted as part of the consultation, giving a partial and biased view. The Government claim that DLA must be reformed as claims has risen 30% in 8 years – we find that these statistics are entirely misleading and give a ‘distorted view.’ There is overwhelming opposition to the new benefit, Personal Independence Payments.”
“We believe reform must be measured, responsible and transparent, based on available evidence and designed with disabled people at the heart of decision-making. We urge members of the House of Lords to take note of this research and the strength of opposition. It is not too late for them to halt these reforms,” commented Sue Marsh, author of the blog Diary of A Benefit Scrounger, who helped co-ordinate the report.
Government response. A spokeswoman for the DWP, quoted in Herald Scotland, said the Spartacus report was a selective analysis of consultation responses, which had looked at 500 responses out of more than 5500 submitted on the Government’s proposals. She added, “Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit with the majority of people getting it for life without checks to see if their condition has changed. This has led to hundreds of millions of pounds in overpayments.”
Government buried findings. “Disabled people will be hurt by the government’s reforms. It is in everyone’s interest to help this fight,” insisted Alex Hearn on the LeftFootForward blog, who said the Spartacus report “shows the extent of the government’s suppression of evidence around the issue. The Department for Work and Pensions held a public consultation on the issue, but then proceeded to bury much of the findings.”
More on the UK economy