Leading article: Sensible reforms that must be fair

 

Share
Related Topics

At its simplest, the reform of the disability living allowance is a good idea. Since the benefit was introduced in 1992, the cost has quadrupled; the number of claimants has shot up by 30 per cent in the past nine years alone; and the cost to the taxpayer, at the current rate, will soon top £13bn every year.

The Government's plans to cut the bill by 20 per cent are, therefore, eminently reasonable – providing that no one with a genuine disability suffers as a result.

In theory, at least, that should be possible. Until now, most claims for the allowance have been "self-assessed", requiring no medical checks. And about 70 per cent of claimants were awarded the payments for life. With advances in prosthetics, for example, it is entirely possible that someone who lost a limb might now be mobile enough to be able to work. The proposal that all 3.1 million claimants for the new personal independence payment should be examined by a doctor over the next three years is, accordingly, a sensible one.

All well and good. But the concerns being advanced by charities must be acknowledged. Blind people, in particular, are in danger of losing out. Because the reformed benefit works on a points system that focuses on whether claimants can walk, rather than whether they can see, there is a danger that the wide range of additional problems – and costs – incurred by the blind and partially sighted are being disregarded.

Such concerns only emphasise the degree to which disability benefits must be reformed, but with due care that new tests and rules are sensitive and appropriate. Outstanding issues as to how far the they are applied evenly across the country are also yet to be resolved.

If ministers' predictions are correct, anywhere between 300,000 and 500,000 people who are currently in receipt of disability benefits are set to lose them under the new system. For all the undeniable advantages to the over-stretched public purse, that will only be acceptable if individual injustices are avoided. With so much at stake, the concerns of disability campaigners cannot justifiably be ignored.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission, Benefits, OTE £100k: SThree: ...

Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

£32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

£27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you a recent graduate loo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Irish referendum was the first on the issue of same-sex marriage anywhere in the world  

Don't be blinded by the Yes vote: Ireland is still oppressing its LGBT population

Siobhan Fenton
 

Daily catch-up: union bosses mobilise to try to prevent a Labour government

John Rentoul
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine