Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Non ranty post!

I was hit with inspiration for a Christmas-type card today, so adventured up to Blade Rubber for some pink mock-lino with which to make a Festive Pylon!

If you'd like to send some seasonal industrial architecture to your nearest and dearest, then drop me an email! They're £2.00 each, with 40p postage for the 1st card, and 10p postage for each additional card.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Disability Benefit Acronyms

For quick reference if you're not familiar with many of the acronyms used around disability benefits.

DLA - Disability Living Allowance. Benefit paid to help with additional costs of living with impairment. NOT means tested or work-related. Has two components - Care, and Mobility. Care has three rates - High,Middle, and Low. Mobility has two rates, High and Low. High Rate Mobility can be exchanged to hire an adapted car from Motability. Being replaced in 2013 - 2014 by PIP.

PIP - Personal Independence Payment. DLA replacement benefit. Will have smaller budget and tighter eligibility criteria. DWP estimate 500,000 fewer disabled people will qualify for PIP.

ESA - Employment and Support Allowance. Unemployment benefit paid to chronically sick and disabled people who go through WCA. Has two levels - WRAG and SG. Is replacing Incapacity Benefit. Workers who are off sick without pay can also claim ESA.

IB  - Incapacity Benefit. Unemployment benefit paid to chronically sick and disabled people who are considered unable to work. Is being replaced by ESA.

WCA - Work Capability Assessment. Medical assessment carried out by Atos on behalf of the DWP to determine level of ESA an unemployed disabled person is eligible for.

WRAG - Work Related Activity Group. Level of ESA where an unemployed disabled person is expected to be ready for some work at some point in the future. Has two types - contribution based, and income based. Contribution based is for those who have paid some NI, and runs out after a year. Income based is for those living in a very low income household.

SG - Support Group. Level of ESA where unemployed disabled person is considered too impaired to be able to manage any work at all, ever. Very stringent criteria apply to get into this group, such as those considered terminally ill with less than 6 months left to live.

DWP - Department of Work and Pensions. Government department with responsibility for benefit administration.

Atos - IT company who have many government contracts, including carrying out medicals for both ESA and DLA.

JSA  - Job Seekers Allowance. Benefit paid to unemployed people, including unemployed disabled people who aren't deemed to require any support to seek work.

HB - Housing Benefit. Benefit to pay toward rent cost of social tenants on very low incomes.

LHA - Local Housing Allowance. Benefit to pay toward rent cost of tenants privately rented accommodation on very low incomes.

CA - Carer's Allowance. A sum paid to someone providing full time care for a disabled person who is in receipt of certain benefits.  CA is means tested.

AA - Attendence Allowance. A benefit paid to people over pension age who have additional support needs similar to those that qualify someone for Disability Living Allowance. Has two components - Care and Mobility. Both have two rates, High or Low.

SDA- Severe Disablement Allowance. Old unemployment Benefit for disabled young people who hadn't accrued enough NI contributions to qualify for Incapacity Benefit. Was phased out in 1997-8, but those with historic claim may continue to receive this benefit. Will be replaced by ESA.

All of this information can be found here: This is intended to be a quick quide for easy reference.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Dear Esther McVey...

Firstly, Congratulations on your appointment as Minister for Disabled People.

I've had a look at your blog over on the Wirrel Conservatives website, and I'm really pleased to see you wanting to be clear about your role as Minister for Disabled People.

I confess I do have concerns, but they may be unfounded, it may simply be that Maria Miller's tenure has left me mistrustful and scared that you have no idea of the challenges life lived with impairment brings, and have no genuine desire to actually engage with real disabled people to ensure Conservative policies don't leave us all far worse off.

A Minister for Disabled People has an important role, and should be doing a number of things:

- Working for disabled people's equality in society.
- Understanding the needs of disabled people by listening to disabled people. 
- Challenging stigma attached to disability by:
- Openly challenging the media when they publish wrong or misleading stories about sick & disabled people.
- Openly challenging fellow ministers when they use wrong and misleading statistics in parliament, and in the media.
- Educating government ministers about disabled people's needs and rights.
- Being held accountable by disabled people.

You will do well if you listen to what disabled and chronically sick people are saying, then act on what you learn. Look at where disadvantage occurs and ask us why we think that is, and what we would like to do to fix it.

Please understand that there's a big difference between "fit for some work with the right adaptations" and "fit to compete in the current jobs market." I work in an organisation that employs people with a range of impairments - from those who require little support, to people that require 24 hour personal care so I know that almost anyone can work, however, it isn't as simple as just finding a job. That job must be correct for that individual, and the right support must be in place.

For those who can't work - and there are many who can't - realistic alternatives must be available. People must be given enough money to live on. Disability and chronic illness are not choices, and allowing people to live in conditions where they have to choose between heating and eating sees people's health deteriorate.

Please look at the cumulative impact the current cuts are having on the whole of disabled people's lives - don't see the cuts in isolation. We are people who use hospitals, GPs, allied health services, local authority services, libraries, leisure services, adult education, transport.We make up around 1/6 of the UK population, so wherever people are, disabled people are. Whatever services are out there, disabled people are using them.

I'd like to ask about your new Disability Alliance. Who will make up this alliance? How many disabled people will be part of it? What charities will be involved? How many are Disabled Led? How many charities were critical of the plans for PIP?

If you only take one thing from this please let it be that you actively listen to us. That's all.

Yours sincerely


Edited to add - Ms McVey responded - copy of letter here:

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Have the DWP done the maths?

The DWP have estimated between 310,000 and 500,000 disabled people will lose all support following the reforms to Disability Living Allowance, which will only affect working-age disabled people, including the 2,010,000 who currently claim DLA.

These are not (all) fraudulent claimants – at least 209,500 non-fraudulent DLA claimants will lose out - assuming every one of the fraudulent claimants is weeded out during the reassessment process. (The DWP estimates that 0.5% of DLA claimants are fraudulent. 2,010,000 x 0.5% = 100,500. 310,000 – 100,500 = 209,500. The higher figure is 500,000 - 100,500 = 400,500 disabled people losing benefit support)

I’ve spent Sunday afternoon using DWP reported figures to work out:
a) the current numbers of working-age disabled people getting each combination of DLA rates
b) what the new PIP regime will look like in terms of different types of claimant
c) from that, where the cuts will come from to reduce the numbers of claimants by 310,000

Total number of claimants = 3,203,000

Number of working age claimants = 2,010,000
Number of claimants under 16 = 335,000
Number of pensioners = 857,000

Percent of claimants that are working age = 2,010,000 / 3,203,000
= 62.7%

I will round to 63%

63% of current budget £12,000,000,000 x 0.63
 = £7,560,000,000

£7,560,000,000 / 2,010,000 = £3,779

Average of total budget spend per claimant = £3,779

PIP will have 20% decrease in total budget = £9,600,000,000

PIP is only for working age claimants. Pension age claimants will continue to get DLA, and not be reassessed for PIP.

Only working age claimants affected by change to PIP. So 100-63% = 37% of CURRENT budget must go to claimants not of working age (children and pensioners). = £4,440,000,000

Amount left for working age claimants will be

£9,600,000,000 – 4,440000,000 = £5,160,000,000

£5,160,000,000 / 2,000,500

= £2,579 per head

So if the total number of DLA claimants simply transfers to PIP, each claimant will, on average, lose £1,200 a year, or £100 a month.

However, the DWP itself accepts that will not happen - people will lose their benefit support.

The information below uses the DWP figures from “Disability Living Allowance Reform, Equality Impact Assessment. May 2012”  Table 8, Page 12 for proportions of each claim rate.

Who currently gets DLA and at what rates?

These are the current numbers of people getting each combination of DLA rates.

Lower Rate Care
Middle Rate Care
Higher Rate Care
Care – no award
Lower Rate Mobility
Higher Rate Mobility
Mobility – No Award
Table 1 – percentage of working age claimants getting each combination of DLA rate and number of claimants at each rate.

Figure in middle cells indicates number of claimants, calculated using total number of working age claimants = 2,010,000, and percentage provided in table 8 of referenced document. Some rounding has clearly been used in the DLA Table 8 as the percentages do not add to 100%, and total claimants is 2,007,990.

This is my estimate of how PIP will look – based on some assumptions described beneath the table.

Care – standard rate
Care – enhanced rate
Care – no award
Mobility – standard rate
Mobility – enhanced rate
Mobility – no award
Table 2 – estimated proportions of PIP claimants by rate, projected from DLA proportions.

Note. I have estimated the proportions of people receiving PIP based on the following assumptions and evidence:

The reforms claim to be helping those in greatest need – so I’ve increased the proportion getting enhanced rate benefits slightly, and assumed some lower rate claimants will lose out. Also, people who can "mobilise" effectively may be considered not in need of mobility support. "mobilise" includes using a wheelchair.

There are fewer rates to choose from, so I’ve combined DLA claim proportions to map across to PIP (e.g. MRC & HRC have combined to C-ER)

Total projected number of PIP claimants in the DWPs analysis is 1,700,0002

Table 4 – estimated number of PIP claimants by rate, calculated from reference 2 figure of projected PIP numbers 2015 = 1,700,000.

DWP – 250,00
DWP -110,000
DWP -340,000
DWP -230,00
DWP- 90,000

Table 5 amended– estimated number of PIP claimants by rate with DWP projected figures added. (With thanks to @Narco_sam for finding the figures in )

Many additional types of support are “passported” from DLA.

Not all DLA claimants will be able to access all of these things - they are dependent on DLA rate awarded, economic need, area of the country the claimant lives in, amongst other things.
* Enhanced Housing Benefit rates to account for need for extra room for carers or equipment
* Someone getting Carer's Allowance for looking after someone on DLA will lose that Carer's Allowance
* Concessionary travel schemes - Freedom Pass, local bus passes and the National Rail Disabled Person’s Railcard, M6 toll pass, London Congestion Zone exemption
* Motability funding so disabled people can afford adapted cars.
* Blue Badges for disabled parking
* Access to some local council support
* Discounted access to gyms and leisure centres
* discounted or free tickets at some galleries, museums, cinemas and theatres for your carer, so you don’t have to pay extra to go out, just because you can’t go alone.
* Higher rate mobility DLA claimants can learn to drive at 17, and get free car tax.
* Warm Home rebate from some energy suppliers.
* Enhanced Income Support levels to account for increased costs of life with impairment

Edit: Oh, and best estimate of fraudulent claimants is 0.5%, or 1 claimant in 200.