DAA News Network

UK: New single benefit to replace current system

Posted 14/11-10 at 10.17

The Coalition Government has announced its intention to bring in what they are calling the "Universal Credit" to replace the existing complicated mixture of existing benefits. Its introduction will be staged over the next few years and it will not be fully operational until 2015.

The White Paper claims that Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will remain separate and disabled people will still be protected. They say that, "The Government believes the existing structure of overlapping disability premiums is overly complex and causes confusion. We are considering what extra support may be needed for disabled people in Universal Credit, over and above the additional components mentioned above and the benefits available elsewhere in the system.."

With respect specifically to DLA, the White Paper says, "...spending on Disability Living Allowance has been growing at an unsustainable rate, so we do need to ensure that future support is targeted on people who face significant barriers to participating in society. At the heart of the benefit will be an objective assessment, which we are developing with the help of medical experts and disabled people. This will allow us to assess more accurately and consistently who would benefit most from additional support."

Editorial comment: Although a less complex benefits regime is to be welcomed, for disabled people there are some worrying aspects of the new single credit. For example, the statement that, "...we do need to ensure that future support is targeted on people who face significant barriers to participating in society...", strongly suggests that only disabled people with what the government considers severe impairments will be eligible for DLA. When this is combined with the threat that cash-strapped local councils will limit their support to people whose needs they identify as ‘critical', a great many disabled people may find themselves excluded entirely from benefits.

 

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