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29 September 2009

Just four days after claiming in an online article that ‘rumours’ that DLA was under threat from the care green paper were incorrect, CPAG withdrew their reassurance.  However, the complete retraction was buried in a ‘Stop press’ notice at the bottom of the same now out-of-date article and so was missed by many people.

CPAG’s dismissal of the threat to DLA was made on Rightsnet on 17 August in an article headlined:

“Government confirms DLA not under threat as a result of Green Paper proposals”

The article explained that:

“with rumours circulating that disability living allowance could also be under threat, CPAG have sought and received an assurance from 'senior figures' at the DWP that the rumours are incorrect.”

We know from emails that we received here at Benefits and Work that many people accepted CPAG’s reassurance with great relief and accused us of staring an entirely unfounded scare campaign.  As a result, people who would undoubtedly have lobbied disability charities and their MPs and responded to the green paper consultation took no action at all.

What none of us realised, however, is that within four days of CPAG issuing their reassurance they were forced to withdraw it.  The reason we didn’t realise was that, astonishingly, the complete about face was buried in a ‘Stop press’ notice at the bottom of the same article, which was now four days out-of-date. 

The notice published at the bottom of the old news article stated:

“we understand from CPAG that it has subsequently been contacted by the DWP who have said that no decisions have been taken as to the future of DLA whilst the consultation is ongoing. CPAG says that it will now be focusing attention on the Department of Health who are running the consultation to emphasise the importance of disability benefits.”

Many claimants will find it extraordinary that Rightsnet did not consider the confirmation by the DWP that the future of DLA has yet to be decided – and CPAG’s vitally important retraction - as worthy of a separate and equally prominent news item.  If this was an attempt to spare the blushes of CPAG and its friendly ‘senior figures’ at the DWP it was a very ill-judged one indeed.

A subsequent statement by the DWP has confirmed that whether DLA will be scrapped or not “depends on what people say in the consultation”.  How many disabled people who believed CPAG’s reassurance will, as a result, have missed out on the chance to have their say?

Here at Benefits and Work we hope that CPAG and Rightsnet now take the opportunity to publicise the threat to DLA at least as widely as they spread unreliable reassurance.

You can read the Rightsnet article here.