Friday 17 September 2010

Cuts to DLA 'The easiest bit of welfare reform to sell'

Benefit Scrounging Scum

The coalition’s assault on what the Conservatives refer to as “broken Britain” is underway. The government has announced for the first time how many of the UK’s 2.6m recipients of disability benefits it estimates will be reclassified as fit-to-work in this parliament. The answer: a cool 500,000 or 23 per cent of the total.

Although this will generate political heat among those affected, it is the easiest bit of welfare reform to sell. Britain’s out-of-work disability benefits have been abused. The last government belatedly recognised this and started to introduce a more rigorous system. But many of the 2.2m people who still claim the old benefit elected to do so because it is more generous than the dole."

Financial Times, September 16th 2010

This article in yesterday's Financial Times* makes very clear the ethos behind the Coalition government's slash and burn attacks on sickness related benefits, that cuts to disability benefits are perceived as the "easiest bit of welfare reform to sell" . The FT don't distinguish between the different types of sickness related benefits so I assume the figure of 2.2million people claiming what they describe as 'the old benefit' refers to Incapacity Benefit, the predecessor to Employment and Support Allowance brought in by New Labour. It seems equally safe to assume that the 2.6million they refer it is actually the 2.9 million Disability Living Allowance recipients, some 1.25 million of which are adults who claim both DLA and IB.

The official Department of Work and Pensions fraud rate for Disability Living Allowance makes it very clear that only 0.5% of the total number of claims are fraudulent. That's approximately 14,500 fraudulent claims out of an overall 2.9million.  So, less than 15,000 Disability Living Allowance awards are fraudulent and the coalition are determined to reduce the numbers claiming DLA by half a million. Playing fast and loose with the DWP's own statistics and assuming they're wildly underestimating the problem of fraudulent claims, which seems particularly unlikely, if an overall fraud rate of, say 5%, 10 times that of the official rate were assumed, that would still only be one hundred and forty five thousand fraudulent claims out of a total 2.9 million. Still some three hundred and fity five thousand short of the half a million proposed reduction.

The agenda is clear. To vastly restrict eligibility to DLA, already the most rigorously assessed and difficult to claim benefit of all.

So much for David Cameron's claim that "Those that can should, and those who can't we will always help. I want to make sure that my government always looks after the elderly, the frail, the poorest in our country." David Cameron, 11th May 2010

*10 articles available to view per month if free registration completed.


  1. I completely agree, with such low fraud figures the only way the government will see cuts to DLA is if they change the parameters over who is entitled to it. So I'm guessing come 2013 some illnesses that are eligible now will no longer be eligible. And as for medical tests surely the whole point is that DLA helps afford choices to people with long term illnesses or disabilities that means they can protect their health by working shorter hours or having greater access to private care. So those who aren't deemed ill enough to get DLA will soon become ill enough when forced to work more hours than they can manage.

  2. It is indeed a shame that they don't understand anything about disability! But nor do they care!

    They will employ people who know nothing about the illnesses they are supposed to be assessing. they will be all told that they NEED to chuck as many 'scum' off of the list as possible and sod it if these people are unable to work - Because they are all lying nobodies anyway! Had they actually thought about it - Many people have medical evidence to say they have these illneses - But that is meaningless to this Govt who would rather spend a billion trying to save a thousand. It's easy for them to say as they have put themselves on pedestals of righteousness and disabled people are just scum.

    Easy targets are what the disabled people are. And if people top themselves or die because it stresses them to the point of that - Then who cares - That's just another one OFF the Govts list!

  3. Just to clarify something: it's not really the case that illnesses are/aren't eligible, they look at your needs - otherwise I'd never have got DLA as my condition is very rare. I think it's perhaps more likely that they'll make it harder to prove you have those needs, or raise the bar for eligibility. But restricting by condition wouldn't work under the current set-up.