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13 April 2010

Thanks to the enormous outcry led by Benefits and Work members, disability living allowance and attendance allowance are safe – for the course of one parliament at least.

The white paper Building the National Care Service was published at the end of March.  In relation to DLA and AA the government now state that:

“We have long said that we would protect everyone currently getting DLA and AA in cash terms in any reform of the social care system. We continue to believe that this is essential.

“This White Paper goes further and rules out any changes to DLA or AA in the next Parliament to fund the second stage of reform.”

This is very welcome news.  However, it still leaves the door open to changes to DLA and AA in the slightly more distant future.  The white paper goes on to say that:

“As we move forward to the third stage of reform, we will ask the Commission as part of their work to examine how we can improve care and support to make it easier for people to access all the support they need, and to look at the relationship between AA, DLA and social care.”

It seems likely that any future attempts to alter DLA or AA, whether for people over or under 65, will be dependent on the government managing to set up a commission that includes all the main parties, so that blame for any further attack on benefits cannot be laid at the door only of the Labour party.

What happens next depends very much on who wins the general election.  If Labour does not hold onto power there are doubts about whether a National Care Service will come into existence at all.

But, whatever the future holds, there is no doubt that it was the massive response by claimants and carers to the governments consultation that forced ministers to back away from attacking disability benefits so close to a general election.  

And that’s a victory worth recalling the next time things look desperate.

You can download a copy of the white paper from this link.

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