A survey for Labour voters and members on welfare reform.

If you voted Labour at the last election, or are a current Labour member, I’d be grateful if you could read this and take part in the survey at the end.


As you already know, the Coalition government has announced a range of reforms to welfare since taking power. Many of these will impact directly on the financial and physical wellbeing of people with disabilities and long term health problems. Several measures in particular have elicited responses of shock and dismay from disabled individuals and organisations, and from charities representing disabled people, carers and vulnerable groups.

 

  1. Ceasing to pay Disability Living Allowance (DLA) mobility component to people in residential care. It will affect the estimated 60,000 DLA claimants in care homes. Many people use this money to pay for powered wheelchairs, or for taxis to get to work or visit family and friends, or paying for motability cars.
  2. Time limiting the contributory Employment Support Allowance (ESA) to 1 year for those in Work Related Activity Group. ESA is a benefit for those who are unable to work because of a disability or health condition, and replaces Incapacity Benefit. This new proposal will time limit claims to contributory ESA (based on National Insurance contributions) for those in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) to one year. Around 1 million claimants will be affected.
  3. Changing the eligibility criteria for DLA  with a review to reducing the number of claimants by 20%. All claimants will be reassessed using the new criteria using a medical assessment similar to the one used for ESA. Fraud is estimated at 0.5%, and currently claimants are assessed using information from their consultant or GP, therefore the new test is not to deter fraudsters, but to save money.
  4. Reducing the amount of housing available to people through cutting the maximum amount of housing benefit (LHA) payable from 50% of the median rents in an area, to 30%. Most people who rent are already using other benefits to top up their housing benefit. No allowance will be made for disability, so many disabled people will be forced to move to lower quality housing, or away from services, and support networks.

 

There have already been a few statements made by Labour MPs and Shadow Ministers about these proposals. But I am interested in the thoughts of ordinary Labour members and voters, and would like to know your opinions. If you choose ‘other’ for any of the answers, I’d appreciate it if you could leave a comment with further details. Thankyou.

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “A survey for Labour voters and members on welfare reform.

  1. A small nitpick about the Housing Benefit changes: The LHA levels aren’t set at 50% of the median levels, they’re set at the median levels (the 50th percentile), and the proposal is to move them to the 30th percentile. In some, very rare cases, that won’t make any difference.

    For those who don’t know statistics, the median rent is what you get when you put all the rents in order and pull out the one in the middle. For the 30th percentile, you’re pulling out the one a third of the way up. Now, if it occurs that a local market has about 50% of its properties at the same price, and they all happen to be in the middle of the distribution, then pulling out the 30th and 50th percentiles will pull out the same rent level, and in fact LHA will cover about 75% of the properties in that area. Of course, that doesn’t happen in reality, but it *could*; the figures released show that the properties within the reach of a certain percentile of rent are about 1.1 times the percentile – so a 30th percentile rent would render 33% of homes affordable, on average, and the current arrangement renders an average of 55% of homes affordable. But the effects of this will have to be studied on a region-by-region basis; and this can only serve to emphasise distortions like those in the York BRMA, where York is much more expensive to rent in than any of its surrounding towns; at present the median gets you into the dodgier areas of York, but with a 30th percentile rent you’re looking at about the average for places like Selby and Church Fenton, and York being left completely out of reach of LHA claimants.

    Sorry if I’ve gone on at tedious length and explained the obvious.

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