There has been a great deal of concern about proposed changes to the welfare system as it relates to disabled people. The changes centre on plans to replace the Disability Living Allowance, or DLA as it is known, with a scheme called Personal Independence Payments.
The changes in the system are to do with how disabled people are to have their needs assessed. The idea is that there will be a greater focus on what a person can do, rather than what they can’t. While this may sound like a positive move in terms of attitudes towards disability, there have been questions asked as to the motivation behind the changes.
The current debt crisis is seen as being a very important issue to address by the government. The way that they are hoping to reduce this problem is by cutting expenditure. It is hoped that by attacking fraud and waste within the disability benefits system that 20% can be cut from the budget for this area.
That fraud occurs within the disability benefits system cannot be denied. There are no shortage of stories in the media about people claiming disability benefits and then being caught running marathons and the like. Indeed the dominant narrative around this issue seems to be that disability benefits are being used by the lazy and feckless to bleed the country dry.
The actual levels of fraudulent claims may not actually be as high as they are perceived to be. In fact the fraud level has been assessed as being at about 0.5%. This means that it is not just fraudulent claims that will be affected, but that others will find that they are no longer eligible to receive the financial support that they have been.
An example of how the benefits are to change is how they will deal with limb loss. At present the ability to walk is taken into consideration. Under the revised system the ability to get around will be the factor, so if somebody can use a wheelchair or a prosthesis they will no longer qualify for funding.
It is hoped that the changes will be able to save the tax payer £1.45 billion by the financial year starting 2014. Some charities which represent disabled people have expressed concerns however. Limbcare and Headway being among them.
Given that the welfare system will no longer pay for a lot of disabilities, those who are affected, or who care for those that are, will have to think about alternative means of funding care. This means that it is doubly important that where an individual or organisation can be sued for an injury that a claim for compensation is pressed.
The days of the welfare state are now coming to an end. Those that relied on it must now make alternative arrangements, whether that means cutting back or pursuing other income.