Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Guest post: When "the vulnerable" have everything to fear

This is a guest post from @Spoonydoc and originally appeared here.

Many disabled people are currently living in fear since the welfare reform bill became law. Some benefits are due to be replaced with stringent new criteria which mean that many disabled people will no longer qualify for support. With social services cutbacks many will be left with no help whatsoever.

I am not quite in that position. I am among what the government likes to call "the most vulnerable". Currently in receipt of the highest levels of disability benefits and having easily passed the new dreaded draconian Work Capability Assessment I am in the support group of what is called ESA and am not expected to be able to work again. Having seen the criteria for the new benefits it is clear that even being as harsh as possible, I should easily qualify for the highest rates of these too.

With the government having promised that the reforms will see more support diverted to the "most vulnerable in our society", you would therefore think I have nothing to fear.

You couldn't be more wrong.

I currently live independently.
As I live alone I receive an extra payment called SDP (severe disability payment) which helps cover the extra costs of care and disability.
However a large portion of this and my other benefits goes to social services and in return I receive direct payments, money with which I employ carers to help me with every day tasks such as getting dressed, washed, eating, shopping, etc.
My LHA (Local Housing Allowance) is upgraded to a 2 bedroom rate so that carers or family can stay when my illness is so bad that someone needs to stay overnight.
My flat was adapted 8 years ago so that it is wheelchair friendly.

When the changes start coming in next year, all this will go.

a) SDP is being abolished completely.
b) The 2 bedroom allowance is no longer guaranteed.
c) I will continue to have to pay most of my benefits towards my care. I cannot manage without it.

I calculate that I will be around £80 per week worse off (around half from SDP and half from LHA).
At first I might be ok. Apparently there will be a transitional protection as far as SDP goes, which means I will only be £40 worse off and might be able to get that together somehow. As time goes on however, that will be eroded by inflation and benefit freezes.

The second big issue is : I cannot manage without a second bedroom.
Even if I could, there are no wheelchair friendly 1 bedroom flats available for rent privately (I've been looking). As far as social housing goes there is little wheelchair accessible housing available and in any case I am not allowed a bungalow until I am 50, ie in 17 years time!

So I either have to go into non wheelchair accessible accommodation without provision for my carer or go bankrupt!

The only other solution is for me to go into a care home at the ripe old age of 35. Ironically this will cost far more than if I were to stay put and continued to be paid benefits.

Before the election David Cameron said "If you are sick, disabled, frail, vulnerable, or the poorest in society you have nothing to fear."

Sir, please look me in the eye and say that now.


  1. Putting you and people with similar health problems in care homes will indeed cost the taxpayer a great deal more money. Unlike the money that's being paid out now though, this money will be going to David Cameron's chums who are in the care homes business and who are his financial backers. That's the point of the exercise, you see. It's easy to understand if you follow the money. Try this; once upon a time there was this mountain of money called the public purse. "How can we get our hands on that"?, wondered greedy business men and corrupt politicians. "Welfare reform", someone said, "we'll siphon off huge chunks of it into our companies, give them cheap tat in return and camouflage it as necessary welfare reforms"! So that's what they did, and it's working very well for them too.

  2. All this is sadly true and many of us live from day to day only just managing. And reductions will leave us destitute. Social services has already refused to up my care and from what they say they would like to stop it entirely. I would have no option then but to go into a care home. Goodbye rights and goodbye independence.

  3. I am currently on high DLA both parts but - I can see i wont be after the new PIP fiasco comes in

  4. Mr Cameron's policies appear to make a lot more sense if you ignore everything he *says*.

  5. Your right, it he does make more sense if you ignore what he says, just like when he said there would be no top down reforms in the NHS, he is a liar

  6. what does your local CAB and MP say ?

  7. Frankly I wouldn't bother with the CAB or your MP. I've personally tried both routes and been roundly rebuffed or been told that 'the system helps the most vulnerable, you've chosen to declare yourself outside of that bracket by living independently'. Charming indeed.

  8. I am a cab volunteer and I can say that our office resoundingly supports anyone who wants to stay in their own home and tries to source any benefits, grants, other agencies to enable this to happen.

  9. I to am a CAB volunteer and am shocked that your local bureau has fobbed you off. As above, my bureau will look at every avenue of funding both benefits and grants to help people stay in their own home

  10. My MP now refers all my letters to Maria Miller from whom I get template bland letters reassuring me how much they care and everything is done in the name of fairness to both me and the "taxpayer". To be fair I am still waiting on a reply to the latest one regarding the interaction of PIP, SDP and care funding. I might be surprised, who knows?

    I can't get through to CAB, they no longer do telephone appointments and as I am mostly housebound (I usually get out unpredictably about 3 times a month), it is proving rather difficult to see them.

    I did try to get in touch with my social worker only to be told I didn't have one any more as I hadn't been in touch for 3 months! (still trying to sort that one out)

    1. The list is endless. All too much....keep going with blog so some might understand how difficult things are. My blue badge is now over due to form and new photo???Not easy task although might seem to some.
      Hope you get a reply from Maria Millar. I'm going to try to get in touch with about similar prob relating PIP/DLA /ESA .
      We can try though. Thanks.

  11. "'the system helps the most vulnerable, you've chosen to declare yourself outside of that bracket by living independently'."
    Denying you help on this basis is an arguement that doesn't hold water. It's only because of the help you get you're able to live independently, in fact, with many people (myself included), it's only because of the help I get that I'm able to live at all. Perhaps the poster above should make this point.

  12. Absolutely terrible to see what is happening, the Tories are taking us back in time, undoing years of good work to enable people like yourself to live independent lives. It's disgusting and shocking, but we will keep on fighting for change.
    I fall into the group who's about to be cut of disability benefits because my mental illness no longer qualifies me, I know new claimants with condition (Severe Anxiety Based Depression) are being turned down for ESA and ending up homeless already. I will not be able to meet the strict criteria now expected of people on JSA and AM NOT actually fit to work, so will probably lose all benefits and end up homeless. But as long as I can go on fighting for people in my situation and people like yourself I will.

  13. No you aren't Nony at Anonymous Apr 12, 2012 02:05 AM.

    Because they work part time, voluntary, and have been so severely cut in numbers from lack of funding so that even the tiniest centres have gone. I mean, Gone. No travel expenses means no volunteers. Nowhere to work means no volunteers. Working as a volunteer...? It's work y'know

  14. I work with a 22 year old with learning disabilities and aspergers. He can not function on his own as he can not manage money or social situations. He requires prompts for the most basic tasks and can be very easily lead in to situations that are illegal or vulnerable to abuse. Yet Rochdale social services deem him not requiring any support. He originally came from a different bourough who deemed him elligible to 24 hour support Rochdale because of budgets removed all but 7 and a half hours a day. He has detiorated since then. But DLA assessed him incapable of work and moved him from a work based to support based group and what is more Rochdale has agreed that he can have the support if he moves to a warden controlled or a shared living home. A 22 year old man he wants neither and wishes to remain in his home. He had an advocate but they were toothless and allowed his package to be cut. I believe this to be because of part funding from the local authority and they dont wish to upset the apple cart. As a carer paid my social services any direct help is seen as self servicing and trying to protect my job. His original meeting with his new social workers didnt start with if we cut your package it was we are its only a matter of how much and when. This was before an assessment was carried out. They did carry out an assessment but the way it was done felt like it was going through the motions and the decision was already made. Social services also refuse he has a learning disability dispite being signed off from work by his dr paperwork shown to back up and a refusal of a clinical assessment was refused. Can anyone give me advise i can pass on to my service user he is desperate and feels alone in this matter.