A group of disability activists yesterday published the Responsible Reform report, or Spartacus Report. The report reveals that the government completely ignored disabled people in its rush to introduce cuts to disability benefits by replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with a new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and reducing the overall funding for DLA/PIP by 20%. The latter essentially means that PIPs will be much harder to receive than DLA, which will have devastating knock-on effects in all areas of disabled people’s lives, as outlined by The Goldfish at Where’s The Benefit.
The report analyses the 500+ responses to the government’s consultation on DLA and was researched, written and funded by sick and disabled people themselves. Its findings include:
- Only 7% of organisations that took part in the consultation were fully in support of plans to replace DLA with PIP
- There was overwhelming opposition in the consultation responses to nearly all of the government’s proposals for DLA reform
- The government has consistently used inaccurate figures to exaggerate the rise in DLA claimants
- The report shows that nearly all of the recent increase in working-age claimants of DLA has been associated with mental health conditions and learning difficulties. Between 2002 and 2010, the number of working-age DLA claimants – excluding those with mental health conditions and learning difficulties remained remarkably stable
- 98% of those who responded opposed plans to change the qualifying period for PIP from three months (as it is with DLA) to six months
- 90% opposed plans for a new assessment, which disabled people fear will be far too similar to the much-criticised work capability assessment used to test eligibility for employment and support allowance (ESA)
- Respondents to the consultation repeatedly warned that the government’s plans could breach the Equality Act, the Human Rights Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The report has been met with stony silence by much of the media, with the BBC choosing to report on two disabled kittens instead. Meanwhile, one of the report’s authors, activist Sue Marsh, who wrote this piece on the campaign for the Guardian on Sunday, has been taken into hospital as a result of all the energy she has spent on it.
Please, please do what you can to spread the word about the report and to oppose the reforms. You can email your MP the report with the short covering letter provided at Diary of a Benefit Scrounger. And there’s a lobby of parliament and vigil to oppose the Welfare Reform Bill taking place on Wednesday 11 January (tomorrow!) 1pm, Abingdon Street, London.