The Welfare Reform Bill: Fair Cuts for Disabled?

Allied Mobility – a wheelchair accessible vehicles specialist, supplying a wide range of wheelchair car, MPV and minibus models – contacted me recently with a view to posting an article.  This is what they submitted.  I hope you agree that it fits the criteria of this site in that it is informative – the Welfare Reform Bill is an important topic.

The Welfare Reform Bill Committee has been dissecting the Welfare Reform Bill clause by clause over the last few months. The bill itself is an overhaul of the current benefits system designed to simplify and streamline the model as well as enhance work incentives. The first reading of the bill in Parliament was on 16 February 2011, with a second reading on 9 March 2011. Next week, on the 24th May, the committee will report on the findings of their public consultation on the changes proposal in the bill – that would be implemented in 2013. Some of the proposed changes have sparked objection from politicians, charities and specialists alike and the overhaul will be the biggest of its kind in over half a century. At this stage the bill is still relatively malleable and necessary amendments can be made.

The intention of the Welfare Reform Bill is to effectively overhaul the current benefits system as part of an effort to curb unnecessary spending as well as ensure fairness. The changes include the introduction of an amended system called “Universal Credit” with Personal Independence Payments replacing the current Disabled Living Allowance system.

Welfare funding is integral to the lives of many of those who justly deserve it. Around three million people currently rely on the Disabled Living Allowance funding to supplement the financial consequences of their disability. This funding can be used for a range of assistive aids such as specially adapted mobility cars. One of the more controversial points of the bill is the potential removal of DLA mobility funding for those recipients who are in residential care.

As well as numerous spending cuts, other key points include reducing housing benefit entitlement for social tenants who are currently residing in larger living spaces than they need and capping the total amount of benefits a person can receive. The bill will also place responsibilities on the shoulders of the claimants providing an outline of exactly what is expected of them. The bill also asserts there will be a tougher crack down on fraud and error within the Social Fund system with the introduction of severe penalties for misuse of the system and greater power handed over to local authorities. There are drastic changes such as limiting the Employment and Support Allowance of those who have been on the scheme for a 12 month period and alterations to the current child support system ensuring the child’s own welfare is top priority.

Although the bill has been criticised for its cuts, the government maintains that the bill’s agenda is to ensure in fairness in the system both for the taxpayer and the recipients of benefits. The Welfare Reform Bill is designed to create legitimate incentives to get people into employment as well as protecting the vulnerable and those who are in desperate need.

Ultimately the bill might introduce a more streamlined system for benefits but potentially could cause trauma for those whom rely on their benefits and will no longer be entitled under the reformed legislation.

Allied Mobility agreed that, as they are a commercial company, they would make a donation on the JustGiving page.

Other commercial organisations are welcome to submit articles (no guarantee they’ll be included of course) if they think they have something useful to impart to the special needs community and on the understanding they too will make a donation if the article is posted. Seems a fair enough proposition to me.

Donations made will go to the Down Syndrome Association.

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