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Disability Living Allowance: The meanest cut of all

Welfare is perceived as an easy target by this government, which willingly promotes the

In his recent, sober account of the UK's economic prospects, Duncan Weldon concluded:

"The March Budget is going to be very interesting – Osborne needs to announce a growth plan, but his tough earlier rhetoric might mean he instead announces yet more austerity.  I suspect we’ll get both – some poorly cobbled together ‘growth plan’, probably made up of a small regional growth fund and some deregulation together with more public sector cuts – probably focused on welfare."

That last bit is particularly troubling. Welfare is perceived as an easy target by this government, which willingly promotes the "benefit scrounger" stereotypes of much of the mainstream media.

Declan Gaffney, in an excellent post for Left Foot Forward, looked at some of the figures behind work and pensions minister Chris Grayling's recent statement that "more than two million people are stuck on this out-dated benefit [incapacity benefit], 900,000 of whom have been there for the last decade". Gaffney said:

"The trends over the last 15 years are clear, with those entitled to Disability Living Allowance forming a continuously increasing share of the out-of-work benefit caseload. In contrast, the numbers of IB claimants not entitled to DLA have been falling for years. These trends show that stereotypes about long-term IB recipients which have long dominated debate about welfare are increasingly detached from reality. The severity of impairment faced by IB claimants is far higher than is widely believed, and higher now than it was in the 1990s."

He added:

"DLA is … not awarded to people with minor impairments. These long term IB recipients are disabled, and not on some vague ‘bleeding-heart’ notion of disability which puts intermittent back pain or mild symptoms of stress on the same footing as paraplegia and severe mental health problems."

All of which makes the planned reforms – and 20% cuts – to the Disability Living Allowance very worrying indeed. David Brindle, in the Guardian, described the withdrawal of the mobility component of the DLA as "the meanest cut of all".

One campaign that's been doing great work on this issue is the Broken of Britain. Here's a summary of some of what they've been up to. In particular they urge readers to sign and share their petition this week. Please do so.

"Things are hotting up now that there are only two weeks left until the Disability Living Allowance reform consultation closes on the 14th of February. The Broken of Britain has arranged for EDM 1332 in Westminster, a Statement of Opinion in the Welsh Assembly, and otherwise campaigning and lobbying. However, our first action was this petition calling on the Minister for Disabled People to recall the consultation and cancel reform plans. The petition will be presented to Maria Miller and the Department of Work and Pensions.

"When the petition is submitted, we hope to have 10,000 signatures. At the moment, there are 3,786. The target should not pose great difficulties, as there are 3.1 million DLA claimants in the UK, so gathering 6,214 signatures in a week should not be a problem. The only obstacle is making sure that people know about it, and this is where we need your help. We need you to blog about the petition; tweet about it, e-mail the link to family and friends; post it on your websites. You can even accost random strangers on the street, but we don't recommend it... Best of luck!"

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