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Welfare bill ignores reality of disability

One of the most alarming changes in the welfare reform bill is the proposal to scrap disability living allowance (DLA) and replace it with a personal independence payment (PIP). On the surface PIP appears to be DLA expensively rebranded. However, the devil is in the detail and the details of PIP are deeply disturbing. The government’s stated aim to reduce the caseload by 20%, when DLA has a fraud rate of just 0.5%, indicates that hundreds of thousands of genuinely disabled people can expect to lose out as the goalposts are narrowed.

Instead of claimants being assessed on their ability to walk, their ‘ability to mobilise’ will be considered. So, if someone could theoretically use a wheelchair, they will be considered to be able to ‘mobilise’ and deemed ineligible for the mobility component of PIP – even if they have no wheelchair available. Maria Miller, the minister for disabled people, has suggested the justification for this change is that improvements in technology, and laws against discrimination, mean disabled people are able to access the mainstream world and so do not require funding to overcome access barriers.

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