Saturday, 22 January 2011

DLA for Northern Ireland is being reformed - make your voice heard now!

Here  ( is the Department of Work and Pensions Consultation paper on DLA reform.

Bet you didn't even know there were plans to reform it? Alex Atwood brought the consultation to Northern Ireland (London didn't think it was important enough for us to fret our little heads about!!) but it seems no one really knows about it yet, and that probably includes you.

The autism charities certainly didn't tell you,  nor did the other disability charities. So what is all their money being spent on. This is a huge issue and you should have known about it.

Please take the time to read the document and provide your response (before 14 February 2011)

If you don't and the reform is agreed then you may have to say bye bye to your child's DLA. See here for more:

DO NOT DEPEND ON disability groups to speak for you and your children. Make your own views known.

After you have read the document you can send your responses in writing to

DLA Reform Team
1st Floor
Caxton House
Tothill Street
Fax: 0 2 0 7 4 4 9 5 4 6 7
Ensure your response reaches them by
14 February 2011.  Please say whether you are responding as an individual, or on behalf of an organisation. If responding on behalf of an organisation, please make clear who the organisation represents, and how the views of members were obtained.

Monday 6 December 2010
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) today launched proposals for consultation to reform Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Over 182,000 people are in receipt of DLA in Northern Ireland, 103,500 of who are of working age, and this is the group that will be targeted first.
The proposed changes to DLA include:
  • Renaming the benefit,
  • The introduction of an assessment process,
  • Simplifying the system with a reduced number of rates being made available to claimants,
  • An extension to the qualifying criteria i.e. the new benefit will only be available to those with a long-term health condition, expected to last a minimum of 12 months, as opposed to the current six months,
  • All those who are successful in being awarded the new benefit will be periodically reviewed.
The Coalition government intend to introduce the reforms in 2013/14 and, as part of today’s consultation paper, are asking for the public view on whether or not to roll the proposed reforms out to include children and pensioners in receipt of DLA in the future.
Responding to the proposals Social Development Minister Alex Attwood said: “I am concerned about the scale, pace and intention of these proposed changes, given the high number of people who are in receipt of DLA here. The Coalition Government has to acknowledge the different circumstances in Northern Ireland. I will work to have our conditions fully recognised.
“We have the highest levels of DLA claimants in Britain by far. We don’t have to look too far into Northern Ireland’s past to discover why this is.
“I met with the Westminster Welfare Minister, Lord Freud last week, for the third time. I outlined to him in detail a number of measures in terms of welfare law, benefits practice and hardship needs which I believe will provide a pathway through Northern Ireland’s difficult conditions in a way that would help those in need.”
Minister Attwood added that he will be meeting again with Lord Freud to raise his concerns about the potential fall-out for Northern Ireland if the reform of DLA was to go ahead here.
Minister Attwood continued: “The full impact of many of these cuts and changes is beginning to be felt and understood and this places a higher need and obligation on all of us in London and Belfast to work out how best to do everything to protect those in need.”

Notes to editors:

  1. For further information, please contact DSD Information Office on 028 9082 9497. Out of hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.
  2. Questions and answers:

    What is Disability Living Allowance (DLA)?

    DLA is a tax free, non means tested benefit for adults or children with disabilities. It is intended to provide money towards the extra costs associated with disability and can be awarded to those in, or out, of work.
    DLA is divided into two parts, the Care Component – for help with personal care needs, (which is paid at three different levels); and the Mobility Component – for help with walking difficulties, (which is paid at two different levels).
    These factors lead to a possible 11 different payable rates of DLA.
    Where an individual does not agree with the outcome of their claim, they have the statutory right to appeal to an independent tribunal, called The Appeal Tribunal Service.
    To receive DLA a person must meet the eligibility criteria – laid out under legislation - for a period of three months, and be expected to meet the entitlement conditions for at least a further six months.
    The decision to award DLA is based on the customer’s completed application form which details the impact of their disability on their daily lives. This evidence can be supported by relevant medical reports.
    There is currently no process to trigger reviews of awards which have already been made to individuals, to ensure they continue to reflect the appropriate level of support.

    How many people currently receive DLA in Northern Ireland?

    In Northern Ireland, 182,423 people currently receive DLA, ranging in age from children to 80yrs and over - 103,500 of these people are of working age. 48% of all recipients are male and 52% are female.
    Northern Ireland has seen a growth of 2.6% in DLA recipients since 2009 (177,653 recipients); the equivalent rise in Britain has been three per cent since last year.
    Northern Ireland has the highest prevalence of DLA claimants per head of population, in the UK. For example, for every 1000 people in Northern Ireland 102 claim DLA – this is equivalent to 1 in 10 people. In Wales (where prevalence is highest in Great Britain) 80.5 per 1000 people claim DLA, this equates to 1 in 12 people.
    A number of ‘disabling conditions’ are taken into account in the current DLA system, including arthritis, back ailments, blindness, deafness, heart disease, epilepsy, alcohol abuse and learning difficulties, amongst others. ‘Mental health causes’ is listed as the most frequently occurring disabling condition in Northern Ireland, with 41,944 people currently receiving DLA for this reason.

    What are the changes being proposed to DLA on which the Department for Work and Pensions are consulting?

    a.) DLA will be renamed and this new benefit will be introduced in 2013-14. The new benefit will not be means tested. It will not be incorporated into the wider Universal Credit, announced last month. Special rules for people who are terminally ill will remain.
    b.) The consultation paper focuses on working age people in receipt of DLA. The paper also seeks views on whether the proposed changes should apply to children and pensioners.
    c.) An assessment process will be introduced to gauge a person’s entitlement to the new benefit. This will use existing evidence from the claimant, and in many cases include a face-to-face meeting with a healthcare professional to enable an in-depth look at an individual’s circumstances.
    d.) The new benefit will have two components, one focused on a person’s ability to get around, the other on other activities related to participating in society. It is proposed to maintain different rates, but to lower the number of these and simplify the system.
    e.) The new benefit will only be available to those with a long-term health condition, expected to last a minimum of 12 months.
    f.) It is proposed that all those who receive the new benefit will be periodically reviewed.
    g.) Once the new benefit is introduced, DLA will be closed to new claimants. Individuals currently receiving DLA will remain on it until they are reassessed.

    How many people will this effect in Northern Ireland?

    It is estimated that the proposed changes will result in a 20% reduction in working-age claimants once the proposals have been fully rolled-out.
    There are currently almost 103,500 working-age claimants in Northern Ireland.

    Why are the Department for Work and Pensions seeking to reform DLA?

    DWP’s reasoning for DLA reform is to ensure that the benefit is focused on supporting disabled people in greatest need; to help them remain independent and to help them participate fully in society.
    DWP recognise that it will cost money to change the current systems to align with their proposals, but the Coalition aims however, to save money in benefit spend in the long term. The projected savings are estimated to be 20% of the current expenditure on DLA.
    The reforms are a key component of the Coalition Government’s plans to reform the welfare system.
    A group has been set up to develop the new assessment process by DWP and the Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland is represented in this group, to ensure that the specific needs of people, living with disabilities in Northern Ireland, are taken into account.
  3. What will happen to those people who no longer qualify for DLA?(i.e.YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER)Those who no longer qualify for DLA will be offered help and support to ensure that their needs are met and that they receive the level of benefit that they are entitled to, for example, Employment Support Allowance (which has replaced Incapacity Benefit / Income Support) or Jobseekers Allowance.  OH DEAR

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