Welfare Reform Bill

Memorandum submitted by John Stockley (WR 41)

Welfare Reform Bill 2011

1.

I am a disabled person and also a carer for my stepson with severe learning disabilities, who has a mental health age of six years. I am also a volunteer adviser for the Citizens Advice Bureau.

2.

I have very grave concerns regard the capacity for work test (employment support allowance) and the re-testing for the (personal independence allowance).

3.

I have particular concerns for people with learning disabilities, mental health problems. These conditions have hidden disabilities, and not all medical professionals have expertise in these areas. Furthermore would add it does seem ludicrous to think that someone who has severe learning disabilities , from birth will change

4.

I also have grave concerns for people with degenerative medical problems.

5.

This is because The Welfare Reform Bill appears to start from the premise that everyone in receipt of the benefits in paragraph 2 are fraudulent per se.

6.

In my experience of being a volunteer for the C.A.B and having experience regard the incapacity benefit and the all work test when it first came out. Have knowledge of the problems caused by testing people and the mistakes made by the DWP Doctors at the time .Furthermore experienced these decisions being overturned by the Disability Appeal Tribunals and the Social Security Commissioners. Therefore I question the cost benefit analysis for testing people in these categories that I have mentioned at paragraph 3, 4.

7.

It is my experience that some awards for DLA made by the DWP have been made for an indefinite period, because they have been examined in the first instance by a medical profession who has advised the DWP that the condition will not improve. Therefore this category of claimant can be identified and should therefore be exempt from testing. Likewise can see no financial benefits to testing people in the categories mentioned at paragraph 3, 4 for the capacity for work test for ESA. Therefore should be automatically transferred to the new benefit.

8.

In these times of financial austerity question the cost over benefit of testing people in the categories mention at 3, 4. Given my previous experience.

9.

In my capacity as a volunteer adviser with the C.A.B and the 32 years of experience of caring for someone with learning disabilities (within autistic spectrum disorder) am very concerned for the distress it will cause, if the Bill goes through without any safeguards for these vulnerable people. This will have an impact on the independence for vulnerable people and their carers. Furthermore will impact financially on families that care for family members.

10.

Therefore respectfully summarise that vulnerable people with learning disabilities, mental health, degenerative medical problems, should be exempt if they have an indefinite award for DLA per se. As this category can easily be identified.

11.

I also have very grave concerns regards the proposal to pay housing benefit direct to the claimant ,especially when they are vulnerable as already mentioned .Furthermore the Inside Housing magazine from the Institute of Housing ,is reporting that this proposal will also cause problems for Housing Associations credit ratings within the banks. Therefore cause dire problems for Housing Associations , their employees and tenants

12.

People living in a social home with one ‘empty' bedroom could lose up to 15% of their housing benefit under the new rules, and up to 25% if they have two, the Federation said. This will penalise people with disabilities, unless there are safeguards put in place tom exempt disable people.

13.

In addition to this having read a summary of these reforms, cannot see what financial provisions have been made for family carers, who cannot work because they are caring for a disable person. Within the Universal Benefit.

14.

On a final note, point out that family carers save the Government millions, subsequently feel there will be repercussions financially for the NHS in the long term, if carers become depleted physically and financially. Therefore these caveats should be taken into consideration.

15.

Therefore I urge a rethink of the proposals, to put safeguards in place. I submit written evidence, in the annexe of hyperlink document.

16.

Annexe

17.

Incapacity benefit tests face overhaul after damning report Author: Randeep Ramesh ,Social Affairs Editor .Guardian Tuesday 23rd November 2010

18.

'The medical was an absolute joke' Author: Amelia Gentleman. The Guardian 3rd February 2011

19.

Draconian incapacity benefit tests are failing the sick Author Melissa Viney, Guardian, Thursday 29th July 2010

20.

Appeals President slams DWP & ATOS 30th July 2008

21.

DWP/ATOS Nightmare

22.

Brighton Benefits Campaign

23.

Suicide threats don't help disability debate Author Sharon Brennan , The Guardian 17th February 2011

24.

New rules could price thousands of disabled people out of their homes, Federation warns Author National Housing Federation

 

April 2011