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Factsheet: cuts and changes to social care and disability benefits

Banner from FE factsheet on social care, dla and esaOur latest factsheet (PDF 216KB) gives at-a-glance information about the ways that people obtain care services, Disability Living Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance.

It also describes some of the problems that people are dealing with as cuts to council social care budgets (and increased charging and the proposed closure of the Independent Living Fund) and Welfare Reform Act changes take effect.

The aim is to outline some the problems faced by people who need care as cash-strapped councils ration and increase charges for care, and as the Disability Living Allowance is replaced by the personal independence payment from next year with a 20% cut to the overall budget. The factsheet is especially for people who want general guidance, or who may be new to some of these support options and issues.

We will be following this up with another sheet on Universal Credit and Housing Benefit changes.

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Cuts and changes to social care and disability benefits factsheet. (PDF 216KB)

Key points:

1) How care entitlements and eligibility are assessed
People who want care services from their local council (help with a range of daily activities, from dressing, to bathing, to shopping and going out) have their needs evaluated by the council's social care team. They are then placed in one of four categories – or Fair Access to Care Bands (FACS). Many councils have stopped funding care for people in two bands: people with "low" or "moderate" needs. Some have also tried to restrict funding to people with "critical" needs only, which has led to court challenges.

2) Increased charges for care
Councils across the country have been increasing charges for a range of services, including homecare, meals on wheels and transport.

3) Closure of the Independent Living Fund
The Independent Living Fund (ILF) was originally set up to provide extra funding for people with severe disabilities who wanted to live independently and stay in their own homes. The fund was closed to new applicants in 2010. Now, the government is consulting on plans to shut the fund.

4) Disability Living Allowance
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a benefit paid to children and adults with disabilities to help with extra costs they may have as a result of their disabilities. From 2013, DLA will be phased out by government and a new payment called the personal independent payment brought in. The government aims to cut the DLA bill by 20% as it phases DLA out.

5) Employment and Support Allowance
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a benefit for people who are unable to work because they have an illness or disability and/or who need support in work.
People are assessed for this allowance in interviews that are run by private company Atos Healthcare and are extremely controversial. The assessment is widely described as unfair, extremely stressful and inaccurate, and the British Medical Association has called for it to be scrapped.

You can see our other factsheets here.

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