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10 August 2009

In a sign that disability charities are being emboldened by public concern, RNIB has published a strongly worded statement on it’s website vowing to fight the proposal to abolish AA.  The charity warns that other benefits, including DLA, may also be under threat as a result of proposals in the green paper.

Although RNIB had already shared its concerns with the Guardian newspaper, the statement on its website goes very much further than anything it has said previously.  It was issued late on 6th August after our “100 days to save DLA and AA” newsletter unleashed a storm of concern and anger on blogs, forums and social networking sites across the web.

RNIB argue that “If AA were dissolved into the social care “kitty”, these funds would become means-tested, cash-limited and rationed. And if anything like the current rationing system were in place, many blind and partially sighted people would be excluded altogether.”

The statement, in the form of questions and answers, goes on to ask whether other benefits are also threatened.  RNIB’s response is that: “the Green Paper implies some other disability benefits might be used to increase the funding available for social care. This could include the care (but not mobility) component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA).”

Finally, RNIB says that they will tell the government why the proposals would be very bad for blind people and “We will join with other organisations in campaigning against its abolition."

RNIB are the first disability charity to stand up for its members by directly and openly opposing the governments plan to raid disability benefits.  Their move will greatly increase the pressure on other disability charities to take a similar stance, especially if pressure is also put on them by their own members.

Equally importantly, RNIB are the first disability charity to acknowledge that the wording of the green paper means that DLA is also potentially in the firing line.  This means that Benefits and Work is no longer the only organisation making this claim and it can no longer be dismissed as mere scaremongering.

It took a good deal of courage for RNIB to decide to be the first major charity to oppose the government.  It will make them unpopular not only with the six ministers behind the proposal, but also with some other charities who would much rather keep their heads down and not get involved.

If you’d like to offer RNIB your support for the stand they are making, you can email them at:  helpline@rnib.org.uk

You can read RNIB's full statement here.