Baroness Browning calls for a formal impact assessment on the removal of the Disability Living Allowance.
The government is reviewing all adults who currently receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and replacing it with the Personal Independence Payment. Future entitlement will focus on those with greatest need, and it is estimated that this will reduce DLA spending by 20 per cent over the next three years.
There is already concern that raising the bar for entitlement will mean the loss of benefit to people with specific needs. Particularly vulnerable are those with lifelong disabilities who, as adults, have been supported to achieve a level of independent living. I am very aware that among this group are those with autistic spectrum disorders, learning disabilities and chronic mental health conditions.
Apart from the financial loss of DLA, which should not be underestimated, there are many other benefits which people presently access due to the fact that they are in receipt of DLA.
In recent written answers to me, the government has identified no fewer than 37 different benefits that are only available if a person is in receipt of DLA. They are spread across seven different government departments. In addition there are several work and training schemes that are linked to DLA. These passported benefits include tax credits, several carers awards, the Christmas bonus, Warm Front, the Blue Badge scheme and Digital Switchover help, to name but a few.
I believe the government should make a formal impact assessment of the removal of DLA and the passported benefits, including the impact on those who will in future not be able to access them.
In the past 20 years there has been a huge change in helping people to attain varying degrees of independent living. This has replaced the institutions and adult children remaining dependent on increasingly elderly parents. The cost to the state of independent living is miniscule compared to residential care, particularly when provided as a result of a crisis.
Remove the building blocks of lower levels of support, which is what is now being proposed, and the collapse in independent living will set us back years. The government should carry out this impact assessment before proceeding further.
is a vice president of the National Autistic Society and a patron of Research Autism. She was MP for Tiverton from 1992 to 1997 and Tiverton and Honiton from 1997 until 2010.
The question on loss of passported benefits to disabled people has been tabled by Lord Boswell of Aynho.