Changes to the Disability Living Allowance

22 February 2011

The Government has proposed some changes to Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

We know the present system is not perfect - the forms are hard to fill in, family carers aren't always properly consulted and assessors aren't always well trained in working with people with learning disabilities. So a new, simpler system of 'Personal Independence Payments' ought to be welcome. The new system is supposed to look at the barriers to independence that people face, including activities "necessary to everyday life".

Why am I cautious? Well, the Government's announcement that it would withdraw the mobility component of DLA from people living in residential homes made us all feel that they didn't have a good understanding of what life is like for disabled people. Do they have the same views about what activities are "necessary to everyday life" as disabled people do? And so much emphasis seems to be on cutting the welfare bill that we tend to view any change with some wariness about their motivation.

There is a chance for the Government to do some good and reform the system to:

  • Make it simpler (including cutting out unnecessary assessments in transition to adult life)
  • Focus on what disabled people say is important to everyday life
  • Make sure family carers are properly consulted too
  • Make sure the people who do assessments and make decisions are properly trained
  • We've sent in a response to the consultation. Let's hope the Government is listening.