Wednesday, 1 February 2012

An open letter to Maria Miller

Dear Maria Miller,
I hear you saying that you've met with disabled people's organisations, and disabled people, and that they agree with your welfare reforms.
 Here's the list of organisations you've met with, thanks to an FOI request by Disabled People against the Cuts:

1.  Action for ME;
2.  Action for Blind People
3.  Action on Hearing Loss;
4.  CALL Scotland;
5.  Capability Scotland;
6. Citizens Advice
7.  Centre for Mental Health;
8.  Child Poverty Action Group;
9.  Crohn’s and Colitis UK;
10. DIAL Peterborough;
11. Disability Action In Islington;
12. Disability Alliance;
13. Disability Lambeth;
14. Down’s Syndrome Association;
15. Dystonia Society;
16. Ecas;
17. Enfield Disability Association;
18. Essex  Coalition  of Disabled People;
19. Family Action;
20. Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living;
21. Hackney Carers;
22. Hayfield Support Services with Deaf People;

23. Headway Glasgow;
24. Haemaphilia Society;
25. Inclusion Scotland;
26. Independent Living in Scotland Project;
27. Leonard Cheshire Disability;
28. Limbless  Association;
29. Lothian Centre for Inclusive Living;
30. Macmillan;
31. Margaret  Blackwood  Housing Association;
32. Mencap;
33. Middlesborough Welfare Rights Unit;
34. MS  Society;
35. Mind;
36. Momentum Scotland;
37. National AIDS Trust;
38. National Autistic Society;
39. National Deaf Children’s Society;
40. National  Rheumatoid  Arthritis Society;
41. National  Federation of the Blind;
42. Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People;
43. Parkinson’s UK;
44. Papworth Trust;
45. People First;
46. Poverty Alliance;
47. Quarriers;
48. Royal National Institute of Blind People;
49. Scottish Association for Mental Health;
50. Scope.

Of that list, the following organisations publicly do not approve of your reforms, having real concerns for how disabled people will fare if the reforms go through as planned.

Mencap: "Mencap’s chief executive, Mark Goldring, said: “We are extremely disappointed by the government's rejection of the Lord’s amendments, and failure to listen to the concerns of disabled people and their families."

The RNIB: "This report adds to a growing evidence base that shows the Government cannot follow through on its Big Society agenda and its commitment to give disabled people control and independence by stripping away the very benefits and services that enable them to take part in our communities"

Mind: "we are still very worried about the impact the introduction of the new assessment will have on people with mental health problems." "we remain unconvinced that the breadth and detail of activities to be considered is sufficient to properly capture the barriers to participation faced by people with mental health problems"

The National Autistic Society: "We are concerned about how the assessment will work for the new benefit, as well as about proposals for regular re-assessments."

Scope: "Scope warns that the government is in danger of repeating mistakes with its new benefit assessment.
The charity says that up to two million disabled people risk losing essential financial support because the new £6 billion Personal Independence Payment, introduced to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA), will use a flawed eligibility assessment." 

Leonard Cheshire: "There have been some positive changes agreed in the Lords, but as the plans stand there are still real fears that many thousands of disabled people will be pushed into poverty and financial hardship if they are found ineligible for support through the new Personal Independence Payment"

The National AIDS Trust: "NAT does not consider the proposed functional assessment a more accurate method for identifying disability-related needs than the existing DLA assessment" "NAT is extremely concerned that the reform process is being driven by a pre-determined 20% budget cut" "The decision to focus PIP on those with ‘greatest needs’ is also a move away from the principles of DLA"

Capability Scotland: "These amendments could be the difference between a family being able to heat their home and put food on the table and complete financial devastation.  Unfortunately the UK Government does not have a great track record on listening when it comes to Welfare Reform"

Joint response from Centre for Mental Health, Hafal, Mind, Rethink, The Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Scottish Association for Mental Health: "We do not support the objective of an overall reduction target for the basis of DLA reform – the reform should be based on supporting disabled people to lead fulfilling lives and not primarily concerned with reducing costs."

"We are concerned about the focus on those with ‘greatest need’ – this may be counterproductive and significantly disadvantage those eligible to lower rates of benefit, who may still have high disability costs."

Citizens Advice: "A benefits cap is just one of a number of welfare reforms that will have a disproportionate impact on some of the most vulnerable families, including children, breadwinners who have lost their job, and others forced to give up work because of illness The government is right to try and simplify a benefits system which is far too complex, but unless some safeguards are put in place the combined impact of these sweeping welfare reforms and huge cuts will be catastrophic for a lot of families already stretched to the limit."

In addition, along with the Papworth Trust, these organisations have called for a pause to the Bill because their concerns are so severe:

Papworth Trust
Action on Hearing Loss
Brandon Trust
Campaign for a Fair Society
Disability Rights UK
Disability Wales
Leonard Cheshire Disability
MS Society
The National Autistic Society
Rethink Mental Illness
Three Cs
United Response
The Westminster Society

So Ms Miller, I would like to know which organisations do approve of your reforms? 

Would you please stand up and name them?

Yours sincerely


Edited 09/02/12

More evidence from organisations who have expressed concern at potential effects of Welfare Reform Bill:

Breast Cancer Care "Breast Cancer Care, along with other cancer charities, met with Maria Miller MP, Minister for Disabled People and DWP officials in July, to discuss the changes we wanted to make to the Welfare Reform Bill for the benefit of cancer patients. We provided case studies of people with breast cancer to the Minister’s office to demonstrate the possible negative impact of the changes if they go ahead."

MS Society "The MS Society, along with other major charities, have today urged the Government to pause the Welfare Reform Bill and carefully consider the future of Disability Living Allowance

Sense "Sense is deeply concerned the Government’s decision to get rid of the automatic entitlement to DLA mobility component for deafblind people will leave many out in the cold and the needless bureaucracywill create confusion and cost the tax payer more. The Government’s short sighted focus on disabled people with solely higher needs means preventative support will be slashed. This financially irrational approach is not sustainable and will cut many deafblind people off from participating in society"


Anonymous said...

Maria Miller is a liar. Politicians are pathological liars and have been proven to be so over centuries. The reason they lie is becuase they pretend to work for the people to get votes, yet really work for the Ruling Elite. to facilitate this involves lying, and lots of it.

Anonymous said...

It looks like Mind, who have long advocated that their local associations engage in workfare type schemes and who have an appalling record of employing and retaining people with significant disabilities in their own employment have been silent again. Never mind they have had their anti stigma work refunded so it will all be lovely for us

Robin said...

No, Mind have responded, and it's not with any great confidence in the reforms - their response is linked to in the post.

Amonrosier said...

Great question Robin!

And it certainly is the most important question that the government need to answer - Who exactly agreed with this PIP welfare reform, and why is it so difficult for Maria Miller to name them?

It is an insult to all the other charities and organisations involved with this consultation, not to mention the 3+million people in receipt of DLA fearing for their livelihood.

It needs to be answered. If the government intend to make these changes, they need to show an accountable reason for doing so.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic letter! Thank you from a Spartici

Thia said...

Thank you Robin

britishroses said...

Excellent! Thanks for taking the time to do this.