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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Disability Reforms

So, having read this:

I dropped in on

As a still passport holding, if without a vote "UK Citizen", offered him my 9-point ideas for reforming the current disability scheme so that he can pinch them and make them his own. The message is below. I wonder what he'll make of it?


Dear Mr Prime Minister

Having lived under both the UK's DLA system (UK citizen with passport) and now under the Irish disability scheme, when reading today about Robert Oxley, I was not at all suprised.

I have long since come to the conclusion that both schemes need a bit of tweaking, but that with a bit of inter-governmental support, both systems could come out on top.

The Irish scheme is much easier to live on day-to-day basis as the amount received is enough to live on properly (i.e. at or just above breadline depending on circumstances), but there is little room to allow the candidate to work. (Actually, there is adequate provision, but the accompanying benefits - Household allowance and Rent Allowance, make it impossible to invoke that part of the scheme).

The UK system at least allows a disabled person to work, but the application and appeal system is flawed. - Personally, while on the UK scheme, my experience was that I had to fight for over five years for any DLA at all and when I did finally get a hearing, I was advised by the CAB agent who helped me to finally do the forms in such a way as I was no longer interpreted as "Not disabled enough" (My average mobility is about 2-3 mobile with aids days in a week) told me that I was being disallowed from mobility, even though the chairlady acknowledged I needed it, because it was her personal policy to disallow some portion of every appeal she heard to teach the applicant a lesson for appealing. - Even the attending security guard at the centre agreed that she was "known for that".

I also know of another disturbing case, but that I would like an opportunity to email to you away from the public forum as I do not know if that person would want to be public.

How I suggest that a reformed DLA system should be:

* Disability benefit to be ONE benefit, not care and mobility portions as now (more on this later)
* One form, possibly based on the current Irish application for the applicant and their supporting doctor to fill out. This form should also, as epr the current Irish provision give one box for a doctor to tick for permission for the candidate to do therapeutic/permitted work if the Doctor thinks it would benefit them.
* A sensible rate of payment. By which, I mean, that the new disability payment gives enough to properly live on, so that the applicant doesn't have to go out and claim IS or JSA, Food tokens etc on top (this will also bring down some of the admin costs of these other benefits and could provide some of the funding for this new scheme) I would suggest that for an individual this be around the £100 - £150mark. There should be a monetary figure that may be earned in permitted/theraputic work each week. - I would suggest this figure be around the £100 mark.
* Being on the new disability scheme should automatically qualify the candidate for HB, CTB, Winter Fuel Allowance and Disabled Persons' Tax Credits - there should be no deductions from any related benefit unless the candidate earns more than there weekly allowance for permitted work. Each of these benefits should have an easy form, to get the person's name, address, NINO and DOB and then only require a photocopy of the letter of entitlement to disability to be enclosed with it (Again, less paperwork, less costs, more funding can be diverted into the running of this new scheme)
* Being on the scheme should entitle the individual to x (perhaps) 10 hours a week with a Personal Assistant. They should be able to buy more hours if they need it (This will provide jobs at least 10hrs a week to trained Carers - perhaps disillusioned former NHS staff would be good in one-on-one roles where they can really make a difference on a personal level and money from extra hours would pay a portion of the PAs' wages and could contribute to the running of the new scheme).
* Motability should be available to every person in receipt of the new disability benefit who passes a medical evaluation of their capability.
* VRT and VAT relief/refund should be available for every recipient on their transport and petrol.
* Every candidate should receive a bus and rail pass.
* The current living abroad rules should be slightly altered so that a citizen living in another EU state ought to be allowed to retain their benefit for two years instead of only one. - That way, the UK would no longer be inadvertently preventing its disabled citizens from their right to live in the member state of their choice. (This may seem counter intuitive on the surface if we are to make the financial administration of the new system as efficient as possible, but if you see point '4' below, You will see where it is that I think a portion of the necessary revenue could come.)

If all of that were in place, more of the UK's disabled citizens would be:
1) Living better
2) Able to live securely - under the current system, if you live and are independent to the best of your ability you are likely to be penalised
3) Due to '1' & '2' more able to be productive citizens, generating income for the country (through both working - thereby generating income for the country and paying taxes and leisure/getting out and about etc )
4) Legitimately getting help. - Part of the reason why so many defraud the current system, from what I have seen, is because it's so spread out and fragmented. Bringing the new system in would centralise and clearly delineate rights and responsibilities from grass-roots all the way up to the cabinet and ultimately, to your office Mr Prime Minister. - This point, in and of itself ought to save the country a huge amount in benefits that are currently being paid out to frauds who've diluted the system to a nonsense that is failing the very people who need it most.

I do hope this will be of use to you Mr Prime Minister. I am sure that you will also find that if you were to embark upon a reform of the Disability Benefits System, that many of us regular citizens within the Disabled Community, both at home and abroad, would be only too happy to help at any point in the process.