Tuesday 5 October 2010

DLA and work? Who is confused here?

At the moment, it's me that's confused. You see, the media still report on Disability Living Allowance as if it has some kind of relationship to whether the recipient can work or not. But that's not the case at all!

In fact, as you will see from my earlier article "The real difference made by Disability Living Allowance", often DLA is what enables people to stay in work - perhaps it is spent on taxis to the office, or on food or a cleaner (because the disabled person either has enough energy to go to work, or to cook and clean for themself, but not both).

So why does the BBC report on possible changes to DLA in the same breath as a reference to "work"? Is it the journalist at fault, or (more likely in my opinion) they are simply repeating the words of various MPs. Either way, I'd like to see some clarity over this issue, because at the moment I am confused by what is being reported.

In this article, about the most costly UK benefits, the BBC reports that 'Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith recently said the benefit would remain separate from "universal credit", with carers free to take part-time or short-term work without losing their benefits.'

This is good news - the last thing we want is for DLA to be sucked into a credit system which pays out based on your ability to take a job - although the reference to carers being able to work is a little confusing. I presume this refers to unpaid carers, who currently claim Carer's Allowance for looking after a relative, but it's hard to be sure.

The article continues: 'There are no plans to reduce DLA, but a strict new medical assessment is due to be introduced from 2013 to help claimants "reduce dependency and promote work".'

Now I really am confused. As I reported earlier, sometimes DLA is spent in a way which will enable the disabled person to stay in employment, but it is actually paid because of needs which are completely irrelevant of the recipient's working status. After all, your ability to wash yourself, or to walk (to take two simple examples) does not change because you do, or do not have a job.

The government has already said that the new medical test is intended to reduce the number of DLA claimants by 20%. But I am not sure how taking benefit from 1 in 5 people will "reduce dependency" (on what?) and "promote work" - indeed, several of the people quoted in my previous article about DLA would have to stop working if they lost that benefit, because they do not have enough energy or capacity to both care for themselves AND go to work. If the government think that turfing disabled people off DLA will suddenly give them the capacity to work, they are very much mistaken. It will just disable them even further.

I have one thought, and fear, which may explain the confusion in what has been reported. Perhaps MPs are referring to DLA as being related to work because they have a secret plan to introduce means-testing in the future, in the same way that they have recently announced that households with a higher rate tax payer will no longer qualify for Child Benefit? I sincerely hope that's not the case, as DLA is essential for the individual disabled person's independence. Thankfully, no such plan exists at the moment.

Disability Living Allowance is paid regardless of whether the disabled person is in work. Journalists and MPs, please take note!


  1. I can't work, I dont have the energy to do very much at all as it is. My house is not the clean place i used to live in, I dont cook more than maybe once a week, I live on simple foods that dont need cooking - A healthy diet is not what happens in my life! In fact 'cooked' refers to toasted in my life. If they want me to work, and have a normal life as well - and how they expect all these people to suddenly find jobs when it is hard for a able-bodied person to find it - to find work - I have no idea!

    if someone is going to look at me, Vs a normal able bodied person for a job - Why would they take me? I spend most of my time yawning, I am listless and cannot focus for more than a minute or two, yes I may smile stupidly, but apparently when I try to talk the words that come out are not the ones I think I am saying - I have word problems, I can do things for maybe 5mins then i need to rest. I cant walk far, I cant sit for long I cant stand for long, i am so tired i so much want to just sleep - But I also cant do that.

    My rent is £140 a WEEK - Who is going to pay me enough to do all I would need to do, even a minimum wage job just wont do it. My DLA is my LIFELINE. without it - The pills I have stashed will very likely be used. Then the Government wont have to bother with me any more, what a cost cutting exercise this will be - We will reduce the DLA bill by forcing 20% of the people we strike off to kill themselves through the stress we are putting them under - We wont get the people avoiding paying their tax, we wont get the people who just claim incapacity for fun, we wont get Vodaphone who owe us 6bn - No - we will attack the disabled EASY TARGETS because they will top themselves and they will then be out of out hair!

    I HATE THIS GOVERNMENT - They dont care - They want me to DIE!!!!!!!!

  2. @Anon I am in a very similar situation to yourself, Manchester advice are helping me get my DLA back (after a mean bitch decided to take it form me illegally) and my life. I hope that they do get benefit cheats but hope they dont push deserving people off it too. There needs to be charity intervention I think.

    I hope you are having a relatively good day today & you have one tomorrow, one day there will be a job for people like you & me who talk in spoonerism & say the wrong thing. (So glad I got the internet & the ability to type instead of talk!) What are your passions & talents?

  3. @Anon: You make a very good point that many people on DLA cannot work. But also, there are some who can (or others like me who work part-time self-employed, as pain allows). All of us rely on our DLA. I haven't yet found someone who doesn't really need it. Those who claim it need it, and I wish that MPs would realise that DLA is essential whether you work or not; it's nothing to do with employment. If we all say it enough, hopefully the message will get through.

    And Anon, I'm so sorry you're struggling and I hope you find a way through. I hope you don't find yourself at the mercy of any benefit cuts.

    @Claire, I too hope that any benefit cheats are caught, but there's a bit of an issue. It seems to be widely accepted that around 1% (or fewer) of DLA claims are fraudulent. Yet the government wants to find a way to remove it from 20% of claimants. Those numbers don't add up for me - there will be so many people who lose out, and have nothing to fall back on.

  4. Anon - they want 50% off Incapacity. I do not claim it for fun, I claim it because I am too ill to do much of anything. My DLA keeps being set at LRC/LRM because they don't understand my disability (a genuine, documented neurological condition) and how it affects me.

    IB has a fraud rate of 0.5% but again, they want 50% of claimants removed in order to get jobs that don't even exist for the abled.

    I only get £500 a month total with DLA and IB, anybody who willingly does this to themselves clearly has mental problems and is deserving of the benefit anyway. Don't tar all IB claimants with the same brush.

    Your claim that they won't target people who claim IB for 'fun' is incorrect, as they're removing an extra 49.5% on TOP of the fraudsters. DLA is actually the benefit least likely to be affected right now.

  5. And also, it's just not possible to get a fraud rate of zero. I'm as disgusted as anyone by the cheats, but they are so very few in the grand scheme of things but even when they really are the ones being targeted (as opposed to being an excuse for stopping benefits to large numbers of people) it means making all the genuine claimants go through extra stress and fear and humiliation too in the attempt to root them out. There comes a point when you just have to say we've got fraud as low as we reasonably can and continuing to chase after them ever more aggressively is placing an unreasonable burden on the vast majority.

  6. At last anon - exactly. 0 fraud can never be achieved. Things like ME/CFS/Fibro/Depression etc are too easy to be faked. I worry for friends of mine with these problems as I know they'll be first up against the wall. The cheats have nothing to lose, but anyone who can't prove what they have is shit out of luck and it's terrifying.

    My illness is invisible on the outside, but luckily it is impossible to fake it as there are scans and tests aplenty to prove it. However, I still feel threatened and scared, like a target for the cuts purely because I look ok. Too often the DWP have disregarded doctor's reports about my condition.

  7. Well today I found I have lost even more weight. 7st5lb lost now - Guess the govt would find a way to take something else from me - My life is not enough (Hey then they could take inheritance tax - Tough luck there - I dont own anything!!)

  8. "There are no plans to reduce DLA, but a strict new medical assessment is due to be introduced from 2013 to help claimants "reduce dependency and promote work"............How are they going to act on this with retired people? I wonder if there will be two branches for assessment (a) those who are of working age and (b) retired people

  9. You raise a good point, Anonymous. Half the recipients of DLA are not of working age. That ought to tell its own story, but... And then the BBC decided to claim that the DLA was "means tested" the other day. I know the organisation is scared for its own survival, but that's no excuse for it to turn on the government's favoured scapegoats in an attempt to deflect attention.

  10. This situation just infuriates me. The government has no idea what DLA is for, which does not help matters. Realistically, 20% of people off DLA isn't doable. A good percentage are not of working age. And I doubt that they can get the 20% from the remaining younger claimants - I worked myself into the ground, almost succumbing to suicide as a result of the near constant pain and tiredness that was and still is my everyday existence. Like almost every other person on DLA, I'm at this point for a reason, and it isn't idleness. It's because every day of my life is a struggle - a struggle that costs more than the average person, something I wish the government would understand instead of persecuting the disabled as a means of saving money. (Because there are actually plenty of other ways to find extra funds, starting with stopping the wasting of billions by the MoD.)

    I just await the huge backfire the government are going to experience when they push this through, when they end up stripping disabled people of their independence, end up adding to the benefit bill, and have blood on their hands as some of the most vulnerable decide death is a better prospect.

  11. People DO claim this benefit fraudulently and the only way to root these people out is to review all cases. DLA should be paid to only the very sick with life-limiting conditions, while others should just get ESA. Over the last few years, people seem to have developed an 'entitlement' culture, whereby they seem to think this country has a bottomless pit of money. It doesn't. The current government are doing what the previous one did not have the guts to do and all of a sudden are being condemned. What next for the country - bankrupty?

    The fact is that taxpayers fund the DLA bill and a single person on DLA can get in excess of £300 per week in their hand, with nothing to pay out of this (no council tax, no rent). A couple on this have to pay full rent/mortgage and council tax - unfair????

    I am very confused that DLA is meant to be spent on making life easier for disabled people, but it 'can be spent on anything' Alcohol, drugs, cigarettes? This is not right and there are many that spend it on these sorts of things. A good society does not just throw money at the disabled - it makes resources available that are tailored to each individual case, so that the genuinely disabled are able to enjoy a comfortable standard of living whilst ensuring that their medical needs are met!

  12. Anon i feel exactly the way that you do, i too am stashing pills just in case i loose my DLA, as then i will loose my home and my life, i cant work i can barely sit, my husband has to turn me and i have a nurse in every day to help, but the government will probably expect me to work, i have only been ill for 2 years and loved my job, now i feel isolated and alone and dla helps me to get out of the house, even if its just to the shops to meet people, i have even become too ill to attend hospital, and then up in it for pain relief and bed rest, i live on high doses of morphine 300 mg per day how the hell do i work on that, the government should look at the big picture, not weather i can hold a pen or turn the tap on. What about incontinence etc how do we cope at work with that for a start