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Disabled people once again branded as scroungers

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Disabled people once again branded as scroungers

Iain Duncan Smith has provoked fury from disabled people and organisations representing them as he claims huge cuts to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) are necessary to rid the system of abuse and fraud.

In an interview with the Telegraph the Work and Pensions Secretary described how the DLA would be cut by 20 per cent (around £2.24 billion annually) and lead to about 500,000 fewer claimants. This will be done by raising the thresholds by which disabled people can claim as well as reassessing all those who currently claim the benefit with a much tougher 'work capability assessment.'

Rupy Kaur, NUS Disabled Students' Officer:

'DLA is a vital benefit which helps people meet the extra costs of mobility and care associated with their impairment. It is often claimed by students and can be important in supporting them throughout their study as well as to live independently'

Furthermore the irresponsible language and policies of Iain Duncan Smith and the Government are adding to the growing perception that disabled people are constantly defrauding the system and are ever-growing burden to the public finances.'

One of the reasons justifying reduction has been the fact that the number of people claiming it had risen by 30 per cent in the past few years and due to what the Work and Pensions Secretary refers to as a ' loosely defined' definition of disability has meant people are abusing the system.

However, the Department for Work and Pensions' own estimates put fraud at 0.5 per cent and therefore this cut is hugely disproportionate to the reality of the situation.

Furthermore the increase in claims in unlikely to be due to fraud but due to other more complex factors. Firstly the benefit was only introduced in 1992 and therefore it stands to reason that there would be an increase in numbers. Furthermore due to the ageing population and more disabled children surviving, both of which of course is a good thing, the number of claimants has consistently risen.

Currently around one-third of disabled people already live in poverty, because of the higher cost of living associated with disability. With local authorities also making cuts to services to vital local services the Government will plunge more disabled people into poverty.

The link below is to the interview in the Telegraph and also includes an online poll so you can vote as to whether or not you agree with Iain Duncan Smith's reform of DLA.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9263453/500000-to-lose-disability-benefit.html

The link below is to the Guardian which provides an analysis of the reforms.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/may/14/disability-living-allowance-reform-analysis

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