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Proposed Changes Meaning Disabled People Would Lose DLA/PIP After 4 Weeks Out Of The Country

June 21, 2012

I was very unpleasantly surprised tonight to recieve an email from the Lib Dem Disability Association telling me about a proposed change to DLA/PIP that I hadn’t yet heard about.

In simple English, the Government are proposing to take away DLA/PIP from disabled people who are out of the UK for longer than 4 weeks. These people would then be reassessed after they return to the UK to see if they would be entitled to get the benefit back.

The charity Every Disabled Child Matters are running a campaign against this proposal with a particular focus on how this would affect disabled children. They want the Government to keep the current 26 week limit for ‘temporary absences abroad.’

They highlight how difficult a 4 week limit would be for families during the summer holidays.

I personally claim DLA and have done since it was created as I have been disabled since birth. My extended family live abroad and I enjoyed many family holidays throughout my childhood, some longer than 4 weeks. I am now a disabled adult still living at home. If this proposed rule was to be brought in I would be prevented from visiting my extended family abroad for a long period- making life difficult for my parent carers, as these visits allow them a break from their caring roles.

Earlier this year my mum, my main carer, had to go abroad urgently at short notice and take me with her. If we had had any fear of me losing my DLA, I would not have been able to go to support her and my family at a difficult time. I would have been left here, very safe, but worried about the family situation. This would have been emotionally difficult for both of us.

The EDCM campaign also highlights how this rule would affect course choices for disabled university students. They say:

The loss of financial support may result in disabled young people not taking part in modern language university courses that require a period of study abroad or other international exchange opportunities. This will prevent many disabled young people from having equal opportunities to their non-disabled peers.

I am a passionate supporter of inclusive education, so I would hate to see any disabled student who wished to study a foreign language being prevented from this by such a rule.

The campaign also considers disabled students wishing to  use their summers to work abroad or to travel, saying:

During the long school, college and university holidays, many students choose to undertake work experience abroad, for example through programmes such as Camp America. Additionally many students choose to spend this time to travel around the world. The loss of PIP will prevent many disabled young people from taking up these opportunities – reducing their life experience, equal
opportunities and work experience.

I have one more point to add. Some disabled people go abroad to try out new systems of treatment which are not available here, or to have surgery such as the SDR operation for Cerebral Palsy which is currently only available in America. For this operation, children need to be outside the UK for at least 5 weeks. Several children and families have found  this operation very beneficial- yet fear of losing DLA on their return may prevent others trying for it. As a result, the disabled child’s condition may not improve in ways the operation may have allowed.

For these reasons, I am supporting the EDCM campaign. I have emailed the Government saying most of what I’ve said here. If you would like to send a similar email please click here.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kay Fabe permalink
    June 22, 2012 8:58 am

    I’m thinking this is illegal. It clearly discriminates unfairly against ill people. Of course, that won’t mean much to this government – witness Theresa May, only the 2nd Home Secretary in all of recorded political history to be convicted of contempt of court – but this should be challenged on a legal basis nonetheless. If they lose and ignore it it will just take us as a country one more step towards a wholly justifiable bloody revolution.

  2. Shakira Ali permalink
    June 25, 2012 5:54 am

    You have made a point, i suppoprt you and the reasons mentioned,there are enough boundries as it is for the disabled, we must not CREATE MORE.

    LOVE Cho

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