Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Disability Living Allowance Cuts in Britain

As I've said before in this space, I blog about the welfare benefit reform and the austerity measures in Britain because, as a Canadian citizen, they deeply concern me.  I worry about what's going to happen to friends in Britain who have disabilities and rely on benefits like the Disability Living Allowance to help with the costs of the specialized equipment and attendant care that they need to continue to live in their homes. I also worry about the anti-disability rhetoric surrounding welfare benefit reform, because I hear it in Canada and the US, too. I've wondered if one of those countries will be next to make disastrous cuts to disability supports.

Disability Living Allowance Cuts

The Disability Living Allowance cuts and the anti-disability rhetoric reached an all-time high in Britain this week. On Monday, 500 000 people (1in 5 claimants) have started to live in fear of having their Disability Living Allowance cut off, including veterans. They may not be eligible for the stripped-down benefits program that will eventually replace the Disability Living Allowance, the Personal Independence Payments.  All people on Disability Living Allowance will be reevaluated before seeing if will receive Personal Independence Payments, as one of Secretary for Ministry of Works and Pensions Iain Duncan Cameron's problems with the system is that people are given "lifetime awards" for Disability Living Allowance. and never reevaluated, allowing them to "fester".  He blames this as one of the reasons that the number of Disability Living Allowance benefits claimants has risen 30% in the "past few years".

Amelia Gentleman of "The Guardian" reports that disability advocacy groups believe that the 30% rise is for different reasons, and points to remarks (not made in the article, but that I have I've read before) that Duncan Cameron's changes are to eliminate benefit fraud. The British government itself acknowledges that Disability Living Allowance Fraud is at 0.5, so substantially cutting or eliminating the benefits of 30% of the claimants seems excessive.

Anti-Disability Rhetoric

However, if you look at articles like this, you can see where people might get the idea that people with disabilities are just vindictive bullies out to get everything they can from whoever they can.  And that if you look like a disability, you might just be pretending to get off work:

A couple of notes on Odones' article:

  • Those PETA-esque protest tactics (the fake blood, etc.) have apparently not been used by Hardest Hit since the '90s.

  • What is Odones' definition of "fraud"? Does it include an alcoholic or a drug addict? If so, is it going to include a person who has committed a crime while in a manic state? When did disability become about morality and who made Odone the judge and jury?

  • As far as I'm concerned, if you want to chain your wheelchair to public property, it's as legitimate a form of protest as any. It's not "bullying", and it certainly doesn't make you a member "powerful and extremist lobby".

And if Christine Odone has witnessed people with disabilities "fighting dirty" - it's because they've had to.  Because no one else will listen otherwise, and because it's our independence...our stake. She would fight too.

Thank you to Sue and and all the people using so many of their spoons to work so hard against what's happening in Britain. You all inspire me. :)


  1. Taryn Ceperkovic16 May 2012 at 04:06

    Wait, people with disabilities form a powerful lobby? Perhaps the author is unaware of the meaning of the words powerful and lobby...

  2. You wrote: "On Monday, 500 000 people (1in 5 claimants) had their Disability Living
    Allowance cut off."

    Not *had*, rather *could*. See "500,000 could lose their disability benefits" However, for 'could' you may as well read 'will' unless there is a dramatic turn of events.

    What has already started being cut off is another benefit, Employment & Support Allowance (ESA). See "As sickness benefit cuts take effect, thousands face hard times" and "The implications of contributory ESA time limits"

  3. I'm a fellow Canadian, too,  and am very much involved in the crisis for sick and disabled persons in the U.K.  Please contact me if I can be of assistance.


    And my latest post:

    Best wishes.

    Samuel Miller
    Blog: Hephaestus: Disability Studies
    Blog: My Disability Studies Blackboard
    (Montreal, Canada)

  4. My apologies for commenting again.  I nearly had an apoplectic  fit when I read Christina Odone's hatchet piece.  I was wondering why she would stoop so low since her late half brother was Lorenzo Odone:

  5. It really does make you wonder, doesn't it, Taryn? If we were at all "powerful", would any of this really be going on...?

  6. Thank you so much, Chris. I looked at several articles about what happened on Monday, and thought I saw that people had actually lost the funding. I really appreciate the correction, and the additional information about what's going on.

    I may be writing these things at an ungodly hour of the morning, but my colleagues in the UK could proofread for accuracy before they head out for lunch without disrupting either of our schedules....yay for time zones! :)

  7. I'd love to discuss whether there's more we can do from Canada to help. It astounds me that there's been no coverage of this here. I will be in touch.

  8. No need to apologize, Samuel. I was pretty angry too.  I had no idea about her brother.

  9. Great post. I posted about the implication in the US for the next presidential election at Bad Cripple.

  10. Thanks, Bill...responded to you on your blog.

  11. Whatever your limitations, celebrating the small victories is always a good idea to put a more positive spin on the day.

  12. This is very true. Thanks for the reminder. :)