THE DEPUTY leader of the Thurrock Tory group has called on the ruling Labour administration to stop scaring the disabled over welfare reforms.
Cllr Amanda Arnold made the plea after last nights (Wednesday) full council meeting where adult social care portfolio holder, cllr Tony Fish tabled a motion which asked the government to properly consider impact of proposals on the disabled.
In her reply, cllr Arnold said: “Reform of the Disability Living Allowance is causing real anxiety amongst disabled people who need to understand exactly what these changes mean for them, which is why we are asking Government to respond to the specific points raised by the Disability Alliance.
“What we need are hard facts about these changes, not political scaremongering. Some concerns have already been addressed by the Government in their consultation response, published in April. For example, the proposed withdrawal of the mobility component from 2012 for those in residential care has been stopped and is now subject to review.
“The facts are these – there are over 3m people on DLA, and it costs around 12 billion pounds a year. At present there is no system to check whether a condition has improved, so DLA is paid indefinitely.
“Early studies in Aberdeen have indicated that one third of people on incapacity benefit who were reassessed, were fit enough to work and another third could work with the right support – that is not just financially unsustainable, it isn’t right or fair to the tax payer.
“PIP will be assessed through a face to face interview which will look at how an individual’s condition affects their life, not at how their condition should limit them, and will involve regular reviews as their condition progresses.
“This will ensure that there is more financial support in the system targeted at those who are most in need, which is absolutely and fundamentally right, whatever the economic circumstances we find ourselves in.
“£600 million is paid in overpayments, whilst due to the complexities of the current system, around £190 million could be claimed, but isn’t. That isn’t right or fair either.
“Making access to benefits easier for those already at crisis point in their lives has to be a priority, but what is now required is clarity and consistency for the sake of those individuals who will have to live with the outcome of this reform.”