Yesterday I posted about the spartacus report and the government welfare reform bill and what you can do about it. I tweeted lots, watched the post views triple, emailed my MP, signed and shared the epetition, was featured by Mumsnetbloggers, had the article show up in a Netmums series but failed, really, to make the impact I was going for.
There was no groundswell of support from mainstream parenting bloggers. No lightbulb moment of realisation that this is a bad thing that we *all* need to take a stand against.
And gradually, I realised why. The ppl joining in with the blogging, the commenting and the tweeting were mainly ppl with experience and understanding of disability issues. I had jumped in too deep and not explained the starting point of the problem. So here I am, starting again.
DLA or Disability living allowance is a non means tested, in work benefit awarded to ppl to assist with the higher cost of living due to their illness or disability. It has two parts, a mobility and a care component, and the care comes in three tiers. For a few ppl it is awarded for life, for many it is subject to frequent reassessment, and can be withdrawn at any point, causing ppl to have to go through a lengthy and unpleasant appeals process.
For many parents with disabled children it is a lifeline. They use it to pay for therapies and equipment that they can’t get from the NHS, for the aids that their children need to have a reasonable life, for, well, practically everything. It is not a benefit that is given out easily – the adult claim form pdf is 55 pages long. And once you’ve filled that out there could well be medical assessments as well.
Does this sound like a benefit that ppl apply for on the off chance? No, it doesn’t. And in fact, the often quoted rate of fraud for it is only 0.5%
Despite this, the government has decided the DLA budget needs to be cut by 20%. They opened a consultation on the reforms – that didn’t run for as long as their own code of conduct says it needs to run for, and then they put the legislation before parliament two days before the consultation ended. Meaning that the responses from many ppl were obviously not taken into account.
At this point, ppl with disabilities swung into action. Gathering themselves via social media they networked, sent in Freedom of Information requests, obtained the responses to the consultation and produced their own report on the whole debacle. This is the spartacus report I’ve been blogging and tweeting about.
Disabled ppl agree that DLA and the system around it needs reform. They don’t agree that it needs wholesale replacement with a completely new benefit, that doesn’t have all the tiers that current DLA has, that has reassessment at the heart of it, that looks disturbingly like a way to save money at the expense of the most vulnerable members of our society.
And the thing to remember about disability is that it can happen to any of us, at any time. So while you could be sat there thinking that none of this applies to you, tomorrow, it could.
Can you imagine it?