Memorandum by Carol and Douglas Batchelor
SOCIAL CAREDISCRIMINATION AGAINST
The Select Committee has received written evidence
from organisations which appear to accept the general principle
of discrimination against the disabled, both on the grounds of
their age and their means.
There is in our view a fundamental difference
between disabilities, whether before and or after reaching retirement
age and the need for social care particularly for the aged and
infirm towards the end of their lives.
Disability by its very nature reduces the quality
of life throughout the period of disability; it reduces the ability
to work normally and to earn well. Disability usually brings with
it additional costs and restrictions to life and liberty. These
restrictions apply to the disabled person and often to their family
carers as well.
To date the state has to some extent recognised
that the disabled have a right to a quality of life and that it
is right to support the disabled person in making the choices
they feel best meet their needs, through providing the Disability
Living Allowance.(DLA) That allowance is in recognition of a right
for the disabled to a quality life and a degree of independence
and it is not treated as a means tested care benefit.
The DLA is made up of two quite separate components,
the Mobility allowance and the Care Allowance. At present both
components are allocated according to assessed needs and with
out regard to means.
The State discriminates against retired disabled
people by means testing attendance allowances granted to disabled
people over the age of 65. The State also discriminates against
those who care for the disabled throughout their lives by treating
care related payments as income and as a result taxes those who
assist the state by caring for the disabled.
The disabled, because of their reduced capacity
to earn tend to have lower savings and less wealth. The state
then further discriminates against them by assessing their wealth
and effectively discounting the level of disability related benefit
to be paid, thereby further reducing their already low level of
The carers for the disabled are also discriminated
against in so far as their wealth is taken into account in determining
any benefits that they may receive and by virtue of the fact that
any such benefit will be treated as taxable income. This provides
a powerful financial incentive not to care, surely the last thing
the state should be doing.
The proposals set out in the Green Paper for
Consultation do not clearly draw a distinction between the needs
and rights of the disabled and the near end of life care needs
of the elderly and infirm.
The proposals in the green paper make it quite
clear that the Care component of the DLA may become means tested
in retirement and that the right to a quality of life and independence
for the disabled may cease when they reach retirement age and
are simply treated as any other elderly and infirm person.
It is suggested that some clear principles need
to be stated to ensure that the disabled and their carers are
not discriminated against. We suggest that these principles which
could be agreed by all parties could be:
1. That the disabled and their carers should
not be discriminated against on the basis of their age or their
2. That disability benefits and related payments
to carers are paid in recognition of the extra costs of living
with a disability.
3. That payments to the disabled and their carers
should be designed to enable the disabled person to remain as
independent of social care as possible for as long as possible.
4. That DLA payments to the disabled and to their
carers which relate to disability should not be means tested.
There is a clear case for recognising that discrimination
on the basis of disability is inappropriate. It would be particularly
unfortunate if those least fortunate in life were to be taxed
by the state on the basis of their means, and as a result effectively
beggared by the state over time because of their disability.
We therefore request that the Members of the
Select Committee record their agreement with the principles above
and recommend that Disability benefits should not be arbitrarily
limited by retirement age or effectively reduced in value by what
would amount to a wealth tax on the disabled and their carers.