15 October 2009
The truth is finally out. A senior government minister this week confirmed to the House of Lords that axing DLA has definitely not been ruled out, directly contradicting care minister Phil Hope’s earlier claim that DLA is safe
Last month we reported that care minister Phil Hope had told a Disability Now reporter in an off-the-cuff exchange at the Labour Party conference that:
"DLA is not under threat and people can be very happy".
(“DLA is not under threat . . . be very happy” says government minister)
Since then, however, there has been an alarming lack of official confirmation that DLA is not one of the disability benefits that the government intends to axe in order to fund the proposed new national care service.
The reason for that lack of confirmation is now clear: Phil Hope’s ‘don’t worry, be happy’ statement does not reflect government policy.
Lord McKenzie of Luton, parliamentary under-secretary of state for the DWP, was responding to a question from veteran disability campaigner Lord Ashley of Stoke, who had asked which disability benefits the government are ‘considering integrating into the wider social care budget in England’.
Lord McKenzie replied:
“At this stage, we do not want to rule out any options and so are considering all disability benefits.”
Later in the same debate, Lord Low of Dalston specifically referred to the “reported statement by the Minister for Care Services that disability living allowance is not under threat” and asked for confirmation that neither component of disability living allowance “is being considered as a possible source of funding for social care”.
Once again, Lord McKenzie’s response was in direct contradiction of Hope’s ‘be very happy” statement:
“My Lords, as I said in answer to the first Question, currently no particular benefit is ruled out of consideration.”
The minister did go on to add, somewhat cryptically:
“We are conscious of the fact that DLA is overwhelmingly used by people who are under 65, and obviously care needs are overwhelmingly for people who are older.”
Whilst there is still much – deliberate – uncertainty around their precise intentions, Lord McKenzie’s statement represents the first clear admission by the government that axing DLA is a real possibility.
Had it not been for the thousands of emails and letters sent by Benefits and Work campaigners to MPs, disability organisations and the Big Care Debate website there is no doubt that the threat to DLA would have remained hidden behind a curtain of political spin until it was too late to do anything about it.
Now the truth is finally and officially out in the open and there’s still time to for you to act.
Post your comments on the Big Care Debate website
Sign the No 10 petition
You can read the whole transcript of the short debate on the They Work For You website