Aug 142011

legs of a wheelchair userLeft Foot Forward reported that:

The Department for Work and Pensions has acknowledged that one of the key statistics it has used to justify radical change to disability benefits ‘gives a distorted picture’.

One of the main ‘stylised facts’ that the DWP has used to make the case for aggressive reform of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) has been that the caseload increased by 30% over the last eight years- a phenomenon which a DWP source described as ‘inexplicable’.

Read the figures at Left Foot Forward

Further on

While it is welcome that the Department now recognises the inadequacies of its earlier statements on DLA caseload growth, the publication of this analysis at this late stage is a matter of concern, for two reasons.

The first is the stress the government has placed on the 30% figure as evidence of major flaws in the system requiring radical reform:  the consultation document on DLA reform stated:

“In just eight years the numbers receiving DLA has [sic] increased by 30%. The complexity and subjectivity of the benefit has led to a wider application than was originally intended.”

With the Welfare Reform Bill having already passed its report stage in the Commons and due to go to the Lords in September, government surely needs to explain how the downward revision from 30% to 16% affects the case for its proposals.

The second reason for disquiet is this: government is engaged in radical cuts and reforms to disability benefits, including a reduction in caseload and expenditure by 20% against projections for 2016 and the abolition of DLA and its replacement with a new system, Personal Independence Payment.

Yet it now appears that prior to deciding on these ambitious projects, DWP failed to carry out the most rudimentary analysis of the changes in DLA caseload which reform was supposed to address.

And finally

The government would appear to have launched itself into a radical programme of change affecting millions of disabled people without troubling to understand the first thing about the benefit it claims to be reforming. One has to ask whether this sort of amateurishness would be tolerated in any other major area of government spending.

We would say very probably not. But at the rate this government is going, we might say that the amateurishness starts at the highest echelon.

Read the full article at Left Foot Forward


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