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The end of DLA?
Tuesday 07 December 2010
The government is planning to replace Disability Living Allowance with a new benefit
The government has launched a consultation on plans to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with a new benefit – Personal Independence Payment.
DLA is a non-means-tested benefit and is paid to over 3 million people. Launching the consultation, Minister for Disabled People Maria Miller said: "Personal Independence Payment will maintain the key principles of DLA, providing cash support to help overcome the barriers which prevent disabled people from participating fully in everyday life, but it will be delivered in a fairer, more consistent and sustainable manner."
Like DLA, the Personal Independence Payment would have two components – mobility and daily living. The government plans to introduce it in 2013/14 by reassessing recipients of DLA of working age. It is considering whether to reassess children and people aged over 65. In most cases the assessment would involve a face-to-face meeting with an independent healthcare professional.
Jane Alltimes, Mencap senior campaigns and policy officer, said: "We welcome the principle of making the new benefit easier to understand and the government's commitment to supporting disabled people to lead independent and active lives. However, the consultation's emphasis on focusing support on those with the highest needs is concerning.
"The government must ensure that people with a learning disability, including those with moderate need, don't miss out on support to carry out everyday activities. It is vital that the assessment takes into account the particular needs of people with a learning disability. As DLA is not paid on the basis of a medical diagnosis, but to compensate disabled people for the extra costs incurred by the effect their condition has on the ability to get around or look after themselves, it will be a challenge for any new medical assessment to assess this."
The consultation on the plans will be open until 14 February 2011. The reform is related to wider plans for welfare reform, including a new Universal Credit.
Mencap has already been campaigning against plans to cut the mobility element of DLA for people living in residential care homes.
Jane Alltimes said: "It isn't entirely clear from the consultation paper how these plans will be carried over to the Personal Independence Payment, but it seems likely that there will be some exemptions for people living in residential homes. We will fight against any reduction in financial support paid to people with a learning disability – which is becoming even more important in the face of cuts to public services."