Back in March I published a guest post from Emma detailing what could happen to her family if cuts to the current Disability Living Allowance were implemented by the Government. The Government's response to the consultation on DLA has been published (pdf) and I have invited Emma to respond to it.
Initially, in my circumstances, we appear to have come off well for the moment. There are currently no plans to roll out the reforms to childrens’ DLA. However, my children will be adults one day and will have to face the humiliation of an examination performed by an agency employed by the government – ATOS – with an agenda to remove as many claimants from the benefit as possible. They still want to cut 20% of claimants.
The response also brings more questions than answers. A friend has no idea whether he will be able to keep his lifetime award, as one awarded lifetime status pre retirement he has kept his DLA beyond the age of 65 but there is no indication of whether or not he’ll be able to keep this under the new system.
As I was breathing my sigh of relief, after several months of hideous stress caused by the PIP proposals I happened upon a blog post which almost made me physically sick. The issue is also addressed here.
In essence the disabled child premium that we currently receive on our Tax Credits will be cut in half under the new Universal Credits system. We are going to lose around £200 a month from our household budget, with no way of replacing that loss of income. This measure has been very sneakily introduced, completely under the radar. Once again I have attempted to attract the interest of the media on this issue but have not had any interest to date.
So £200. That’s a fortnight’s grocery shopping. How on earth are we going to budget to accommodate that kind of loss of money? What should we cut? Utility bills (electric, water owing to incontinence and the fact we’re home more than most due to our caring responsibilities)? Fuel and rail costs to hospital appointments? Not replace the clothes wrecked by chewing them/picking at them/whatever the behaviour of the week is this week? Not replacing the washing machine which inevitably has a shorter life due to the amount of use it gets? Not sending my son to his outreach placement at a special school (he doesn't have a statement so we have to drive him but what if we can’t afford the fuel)? Having a disability is more expensive just to put you on a level playing field with those without disabilities lifestyle wise. It’s not a question of luxuries.
I still feel this is just the beginning. I just want this horrible sick, stressed feeling to stop and it won’t whilst this climate of fear amongst the disabled and their carers exists.