Tories Attacking DLA to promote PIP

Daily Mail front page 11/11/2011

Daily Mail front page 11/11/2011

Today there are stories in both the Daily Mail and the Telegraph attacking Disability Living Allowance. Both claim that most disabled people (94%) need do nothing more than fill in a form to get the money that is vital to allow them to make adaptations, get care, and travel. Not surprisingly, both articles are full of misinformation.

The Daily Mail headline is plain wrong, even when compared to their own article and most patients definitely do not “just fill in a form” to get DLA. My own DLA application took two years, a medical assessment, two appeals and a tribunal. While only 6% of DLA applicants are given a medical assessment with a DWP/Atos doctor, 42% of claims relied on evidence from the patients own GP, and 36% relied on other sources of evidence such as hospital consultants and specialists. The remaining 16% were awarded DLA based on just a form, but those would all have been permanent, obvious, incurable conditions that need no other evidence to show that the person is disabled.

The papers both claim that DLA is worth £70 per week. Actually the average is £69.90 per week, but it varies from £19.55 to £125 per week depending on the care and mobility needs of the patient.

The Mail mentions that “More than 70 per cent of existing claimants are on DLA for life without facing any regular checks.” They fail to mention that many people who receive DLA are permanently disabled and will never improve. Many have progressive diseases that will only make them worse. Others might have missing limbs which are not going to suddenly grow back. To continually send these people to medical assessments is absurd, heavily damaging to the health of many of them, and cruel.

Promotion of Personal Independence Payments

The claims made in these articles are quite obviously made in support of the new Personal Independence Payments (PIP) that are planned to be introduced through the Welfare Reform Bill currently in the House of Lords. PIP is the subject of much concern by disabled people and disability rights campaigners. Personal Independence start off with the aim of a 20% reduction in budget over DLA. Given that DLA has only a 0.3% rate of fraud, this can only mean taking income away from people that need it. Then, PIP assesses mobility WITH mobility aids rather than unaided. If a person can move around with a wheelchair, PIP assumes that they need no help with their mobility. This ignores the fact that the vast majority of infrastructure is still not accessible in practice, in spite of laws on equal access. It also ignores the fact that the mobility component of DLA is often spent on a wheelchair. PIP moves assessments of disability to be more like ESA in that it will use a tick-box procedure and will involve an assessment by a third party such as Atos or Group 4. It will involve regular reassessments of people which as I have explained above is pointless in the case of those with permanent or progressive impairments and in many cases is seriously damaging to health. Finally, the sections about PIP in the welfare reform bill are very uncertain about how PIP will work in practice and to all intents and purposes are unfinished drafts that require much work even though they are in a bill that is almost law.

The promotion of PIP in the press is probably not a coincidence since amendments to the bill dealing with DLA are to be discussed in the Lords next week. There is no press release yet from the DWP concerning this (I checked at their website) but they both received the same information at the same time. In all probability it looks to me like this is a deliberate leak from Special Advisers (SPADs) to Conservative government ministers, probably using SMS text messages to avoid scrutiny. Since these stories include the same quotes from the Tax Payers Alliance it is likely that they were involved in this leak too. The Tax Payers Alliance are a right-wing group (quite a long way right) with links to the Tea Party in the USA.

Who are these special advisers?

The folllowing is an excellent summary of who the Conservative special advisers actually are, written by Sue Marsh.

Know Your Enemy

Have you ever wondered how it is that the Daily Mail & Express (other brands of toilet paper available) seem so intent on victimising sick and disabled people?

Ever wondered how it is, that monthly benefit fraud rates, released by the DWP are always written up in such an inflammatory way? Why national media only ever print the government lines. Chris Grayling, minister for employment, says he is “bemused” by it.

Maybe Iain Duncan-Smith can clear up this mystery?


Meet his special advisers : Susie Squire former Taxpayers Alliance until May 2010. For those who don’t know already, The Taxpayers Allowance are huge Tory donors, regularly accused of simply being a Conservative front. They’re not exactly on the Liberal, one-nation side of the Tory fence either. More your rabid frothing side. A quick scroll through their website will tell you everything you need to know, but they regularly attack disability benefits and those who receive them.

And SpAd No.2 :  Phillipa Stroud : Remember the name? Yep she was the politician who thought she could pray-away-the-gay!

She sees homosexuality as a “demon” that needs to be driven out of a person. Accordingly, she set up her own “church” to carry out this important work. Do click on these links, they’re fascinating. As I read through, I wondered if she should be allowed anywhere near Westminster at all.

One can only begin to imagine what someone like Stroud might think of the disabled. No doubt we have demons of our own. It’s not so long ago since people thought disabilities were the outward sign of some inner corruption or evil.

Now, surely the profiles of these two women might go some way to explaining just why, yet again today, we see misleading press releases leading to misleading stories?

**Clearly when I say “misleading” I mean out and out poppycock, but you know, legal blah……

 

References

DLA Award Values and Evidence Use for New Claims in 2010, in Great Britain [PDF] [Department of Work and Pensions]

£300 million of disability benefits paid ‘without checks’ [Telegraph]

Disabled benefit? Just fill in a form: 200,000 got handouts last year without face-to-face interview [Daily Mail]

Whitehall ‘routinely’ uses text messaging to avoid scrutiny [The Independent]

Disability Living Allowance – rates and how to claim [DirectGov]

Diary of a Benefit Scounger: Know Your Enemy

Author: Latentexistence

The world is broken and I can't fix it because I am broken. I can, however, rant about it all and this is where I do that when I can get my thoughts together. Most of the time you'll find my words on Twitter rather than here though. I sometimes write for Where's The Benefit too.

13 thoughts on “Tories Attacking DLA to promote PIP”

  1. Oh ok. Cos I did that and got TURNED DOWN. They didn’t even ask for a report from the specialists that recommended I apply.

  2. Hmmm. this is basically because, I’d guess, it’s a handy distraction for the owners of the Mail and the Telegraph away from any consideration of how much tax they pay and where they pay it. Further it’s all published with an eye on the advertising bonanza coming their way if the welfare state gets abolished. Relax kids, it’s just business as usual. Come to think of it, though, how much tax do they pay and where in the world exactly do they pay it? Anyone know?

  3. I’ve just applied for reassessment. 38 page form. 58 questions. 27 additional typed pages. 30ish pages of reports from medical professionals – CPN, psychiatrist, rheumatologist, neurologist, physio(s), OT(s). And a statement from my carer.

    What else can there possibly be to know about my disability? I have five conditions that I listed on the form. Only one is visible – which is not disabling, and was listed partly for completeness’ sake, and partly because my other, invisible, disabilities mean I need help with the treatments for it. The other four – three of which were my reasons for claiming DLA – are invisible. The other non-disabling one (migraine) can, I’m told be seen on an MRI if they can get you in the scanner during an attack, but it’s only ever done for research because it can be perfectly well diagnosed from the symptoms.

    The fibromyalgia, the hypermobility or Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Type III (whichever it eventually turns out to be) and the psychotic depression, are all diagnosed subjectively, by experts in the relevant disciplines. They are not empirically verifiable, but they *are* real, and disabling.

    What is a face-to-face assessment with a half-trained, badly-guided ATOS monkey going to add to the extensive evidence already provided?

    1. The Migraine Trust is also not happy with the DWP line that Migraine isn’t disabling, and apparently the government have promised to fix that for ESA at least. Depending on context, frequency, severity and specifics of aura, migraine can be pretty damn disabling!

      I assume, though, you just meant it’s not disabling for you, in which case I’m pleased for your good fortune 😉

      1. Sorry, was unclear. I did mean that they are not disabling *for me* mostly because I experience them relatively infrequently if I stay away from things that trigger them. While I’m having one, they are more crippling than anything else at all.

        If I had migraine symptoms more frequently or for longer, I would consider them incredibly disabling, and I know my migraines are nowhere near as bad as it gets.

  4. I nearly tore the stack of Daily Mails off the shelf in the shop and stomped on them in fury when I saw this headline splashed all across the front page.  It makes me actually feel sick when I think that people believe this pap.  Not to mention that the journalists should be ashamed of themselves for not even bothering to wonder why they are being spoon fed these figures in such a way.  Even SkyNews put up a blog posting today challenging the figures.  (http://blogs.news.sky.com/boultonandco/Post:71fec713-cb84-47d3-a365-ecb03e6397e9).

    1. Oh, whoah, reading it there’s a huge ambiguity (at least) that might even make it really misleading. The column is labelled ‘claim form only’, but the notes explain that what’s actually recorded is what the DM considered to be the “main source” of evidence. So if they check a couple of details with the GP, say, they may still consider the form to be the main source – and that’s included in the figures for “form only”…

      Either that, or the explanation of the data source is misleading, and should say that the DM never says the claim form is the main source if they used anything else at all.

  5. This is all propagandist lies. There MUST be either someone with a disability, or someone who cares about truth, who has enough money to take this to court. PLEASE for all our sakes, do it. This is how the Nazi’s started out in Germany, this will lead to another holocaust, if people don’t stand up to be counted. After they have finished with the disabled, it may be your CRIME next! 

  6. I have just had my DLA stopped, one week into the new year when all the bills are soon to be paid.  This is after being told by the assesor that she could plainly see and understand why it would be impossible for me to hold down a job and not to worry. Obviously lying so she can get through her day with no confrontation I am now worried sick about my immediate future as i could be homeless by the end of next month.

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