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– Government threatened with legal action over disability

Disability Alliance threaten legal action against Government policy


In a formal announcement on Sunday 3rd July Disability Alliance and Unity Law announced they have issued a ‘letter of claim’ (a precursor to possible legal action) to the Department of Work & Pensions.

The organisations cited three government proposals that have led them to launch action against the Coalition:

  1. Abolition of low rate care Disability Living Allowance support which is received by 652,000 people who have provided evidence of impairments/health conditions and are acknowledged to be ‘disabled’ by DWP;
  1. Reduce projected DLA expenditure by 20% (or £2.17 billion) and
  1. End to DLA mobility support for disabled care home residents without clarity on how potential losses in support for the 78,000 people directly affected (and their families) will be mitigated

This follows grave concerns that the government has disregarded evidence from many disability champions during the three month consultation period between December 2010 and February 2011.

Neil Coyle, Director of Policy at the Disability Alliance announced:

“Disability Alliance has sought to avoid taking legal action and we are still keen to avoid legal processes. Our concern is that disabled people may experience significant hardship, exclusion and ill health as a direct result of DLA cuts. But these concerns have gone unanswered in a year of discussion with DWP. Our options are limited and disabled people’s anxieties and the potential costs to governments are very real.”

The proposed legal arguments are based on the premise that the DWP has overlooked its Duty Of Care under both the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is suggested that the removal of these benefits is:

  • Discriminatory to persons who are deemed disabled and, therefore, entitled to the payment,
  • Cuts in the £19.55 weekly living allowance would Not necessarily be cost effective

Former recipients will have to pay extra funds to manage their health conditions, thus having to spend additional periods in hospital at a substantial cost higher than the allowance.

A survey undertaken by Disability Alliance made the following conclusions:

  • 56% of the people in work (27% of the respondents who answered this question) said they would have to stop or reduce work if they lost DLA,
  • 16% suggested cuts to DLA will result in higher NHS use,
  • 14% suggested a likely need for more use of council services,
  • 62% highlighted the link from DLA to other support and fear reform will cut the link and increase exclusion and poverty,
  • 9% of the first 900 responses emphasized that losing DLA may make life ‘not worth living’

Given the above conclusions the government may wish to reconsider these proposals on cost saving alone.

David Healey

Project Support

The full statement from Disability Alliance

Further reading

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