Sunday, July 10, 2011

In Britain, it is feared more than 650,000 disabled people will lose benefits because of new test

From The Daily Mail in the UK:

Charities fear that more than 650,000 people face losing their benefits because of a new disability test.

The government's decision to introduce the medical assessments is designed to save more than £600 million a year.

But voluntary groups, including Mind, Disability Alliance, and Scope claim the tests - scheduled to be introduced from April 2013 - will hit hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people.

The benefits, ranging from from £19.50 to £73.60 a week, pay for wheelchairs, physical aids, transport and help from carers.

Charities will meet ministers on Tuesday to put their case for fairer tests, which assess the basic mobility of people claiming disability living allowance (DLA).

They want to see the terminally ill, like cancer patients, excluded from the cutbacks, but their plea has so far been rejected.

Mind, the mental health charity, is concerned the new tests will fail to spot people with mental disabilities and 'cut a lifeline.'

The organisation's chief executive Paul farmer told The Times: 'People don't realise DLA is a a lifeline for people with mental health problems.
'It helps them cope with extra pressures both at home and work. Ministers now want to cut the 'living' out of the lives of disabled people.'

Disability Alliance is angry that its members have not been invited to help with the examinations and claims the real aim is to reduce costs by 20 per cent.

The group are also concerned that the new system will fail to recognise the effect on disabled people if their benefits are withdrawn.

More than three million people currently receive the allowance at a cost of £6 billion a year. Under the Treasury spending review, Chancellor George Osborne expects to save £1.25 billion by 2015.

Scope chief executive Richard Hawkes warned that any reduction in benefits could hit disabled people 'disproportionally hard'.

He added: 'The pace government is pushing through these reforms means practical solutions put forward by disabled people are being left by the side of the road.'