Budget 2010: DLA Medical Assessments- Charities React
From 2013, those seeking disability living allowance (DLA) will have to go through a strict new medical assessment to help “reduce dependency and promote work”, with many current claimants set to lose out under the new regime.
The benefit will not be reduced but the government estimates the move will save £1.4bn by 2015, suggesting many of those seeking support will be turned away.
Some 2.9 million people are currently eligible for DLA, three times as many as when it was introduced eighteen years ago, chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne said while delivering today’s budget, at a cost that had quadrupled in real terms to over £11bn. The medical assessment would be a simpler process than the “complex forms” claimants must fill in at present and would allow those with the greatest needs to continue receiving the benefit, while “significantly improving incentives to work for others”.
Charities working in the sector expressed alarm at the plan. Richard Hawkes, the chief executive of Scope, said: “The proposal to introduce a new medical assessment for DLA appears designed purely to reduce the number of people eligible for this support. DLA is not a benefit, but a basic recognition that it is more expensive to live as a disabled person in our society.”
Mencap said it was concerned that those with learning disabilities in particular could lose out under new assessments. Increasing pressures on social care budgets meant DLA was often the only financial support they got, said Esther Foreman, the charity’s campaigns and policy manager, and short-term cost savings could have long-term implications for claimants, their families and carers.
“We want to ensure that any medical assessment does not unfairly squeeze out people with a learning disability. These services are not a luxury but an essential part of their lives.”