Margaret Thatcher died.
Surely I can’t be the only one who finds it ironic that today is also the day that the new welfare benefits “reforms” start?
Today thousands of disabled people in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), like me, are living in fear of losing their access to society and work that DLA affords us.
Having had the misfortune to be born with a congenital problem that has badly affected my knees, I was fortunate to be able to apply for DLA and a “Blue Badge”. DLA is awarded in two parts, mobility and care components.
I had a medical and was awarded the funds for three years, having to reapply several times before they accepted that my condition would only deteriorate and I was given it for life, on the understanding I could be re-assessed and would need to inform them of any changes to my condition.
DLA facilitates my independence. I am able to work (but only part time) it helps me afford a cheap second hand car and the expensive petrol it runs on. It helps pay for the extra heating I need (many people with disabilities are less mobile and feel cold easily). It is a gateway to accessing DWPs Access ToWork, https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work/overview a scheme that funds the equipment and travel disabled employees need without it being a burden on employers.
Working for a small charity, this support is crucial.
Today, for those in the North, the DWP will start the process of new applicants being accessed for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) https://www.gov.uk/pip . The scheme will be managed by the much criticised ATOS; the Financial Times have run this todayhttp://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7d7606e4-9f61-11e2-b4b6-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2PtI9Gqib !
It will then be rolled out throughout the UK over the next two years.
I am all in favour of making sure that people who are defrauding the system are stopped, I cringe every time I see the films of people on the news who have been caught out. However DLA is one of the least defrauded payments.According to the Government’s own statistics from 2011 0.5% fraud in DLA (see page 15)http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd2/fem/fem_apr10_mar11.pdf
DLA changes are frightening many people. They do not trust ATOS having already been through their system for Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
So Margaret, I do find it ironic that you have died today. You started this process that Iain Duncan Smith will continue; he says today that it was you that inspired him to enter politics.
Maggie Thatcher, your legacy will be felt by so many, sadly, not in a good way.