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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.