By Debbie le Quesne

Posts Tagged ‘benefits

Scope takes a swipe at the Budget

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Disability charity Scope has issued a stinging attack on this week’s Budget, saying there is “no place for disabled people” in the “aspiration nation.”

Wow – no punched pulled here.

Ina website statement and reports in the national media, Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of the charity says: “Disabled people want to live independently. But the support they need to get up, get dressed and get out and about is being squeezed due to chronic under-funding of social care.

“Neither the £72,000 cap on costs nor £118,000 means test will resolve the care crisis for disabled people, who make up a third of the people who use social care.

In the Budget speech Chancellor George Osborne reiterated plans to speed up the introduction on the cap of social care.

He also said that ministers plan to extend the means test for residential care costs from April 2016.

The cap on care costs, originally planned to be set at £75,000 and introduced in 2017, will now also be introduced in 2016 at a level of £72,000.

Mr Hawkes adds: “Disabled people want to be able to pay for essentials without turning to credit. But in 2013 they are struggling to make ends meet.

“Life costs more if you’re disabled and this is being compounded as living costs spiral and incomes flat-line. What’s the Government’s response? A squeeze on financial support, which means many disabled people, face not one, but two, three or four different cuts to vital support.  

“In this context it’s a frightening prospect that welfare could be capped in the June spending review – having already been slashed by billions.  Some people need benefits, get over it. It doesn’t make them a scrounger, it doesn’t make them work-shy and it doesn’t make them a lay-about.

“Surely an aspiration nation should be a place where disabled people can pay the bills and live independently?”

The Budget document says that the reforms should help an extra 100,000 people who would not receive any support under the current system.

Speaking in the Independent newspaper, Michelle Mitchell, charity director general at Age UK, added: “Whilst we welcome the earlier implementation of the care costs cap to April 2016, this will do nothing to help the 800,000 older people who need help with everyday tasks but receive no formal support.

“Since this Government came to power, in real terms £700 million has been cut from social care spending, mostly as a consequence of the slashing of local authorities budgets at a time when need is rising due to our ageing population.

“The Government must urgently address the spiralling crisis in social care by ensuring that every older person gets the help that they need when they need it.”

Will they get it? Will the disabled be helped? I have no confidence that funding will be made available to local authorities. We have a hard-line government with only one agenda: To cut.

Morally, those cuts trouble me. The care sector sees first-hand the daily toll those financial restraints are taking and yes, they are depriving our most vulnerable of quality of life.

I can’t recall too clearly, but wasn’t there something in the coalition manifesto about protecting the elderly and vulnerable?  

Written by debbielq

March 21, 2013 at 7:59 am

Benefit caps: Are we dishonouring the honourable?

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The government’s proposed benefit cap will apply to careres who look after their disabled children.

And the result will inevitably mean some will be forced to move out of their home or put their child into care, according to a piece in The Guardian.

As I understand it, ministers had said disabled people were exempt from the £500-a-week benefit cap that is due to come into force in April.

But in politics nothing is constant and now they have now accepted that if a parent is still looking after a disabled child after they reach adulthood, even if the child’s mental age is as low as eight, the parent and the child will be treated separately, and the parent will be subject to the cap.

The news broke in In the Commons when the Work and Pensions minister Esther McVey said: “In practice most carers will be exempt [from the cap] because their partner or child is in receipt of disability living allowance.”

She was then challenged by Labour MP Andrew Gwynne to look at the rules again. He said: “Close reading of the regulations indicates that a household comprising parents and a disabled adult dependent receiving disability living allowance will not be exempt from the cap, despite the minister’s promises that they would be.”

McVey then admitted: “Should there be another adult in the house, that is then a separate household, so both have to be assessed separately.”

Already letters are being sent out, so the government is acting speedily.

The newspaper cites the case of Jacqueline Smirl from London, who has been told she is to lose roughly £80 a week even though she looks after her 20-year-old son, who is in need of 24-hour care and has the mental age of an eight-year-old owing to autism.

She argues that because she looks after her son, she is saving the government money.

Ms Smirl has lived in Maida Vale since 1984. She lives in a £400-a-week private rented property and says her son is willing to move to a council property but none are available, forcing her either to leave the area or to put her son into care.

She said the threat of disruption to her already difficult life was putting intense pressure on her and she was receiving counselling.

The anomaly appears to be striking – if she were looking after a partner, spouse or “child” she would be exempt from the cap.

Surely these benefit caps were aimed at getting people back into the jobs market. But this poor woman already does a 24/7 job for a ‘wage‘ which must be a saving to government.

Another observer notes: “Cost of rent at £400PW is £20,800 PA.
Cost of Carers’ Allowance at £55PW is £2,860 PA.
Cost of DLA at the highest rates £131PW is £6,838PA.

“Total – £30,498PA. Plus a bit more for council tax, probably.

“Cost of full-time residential care £150,000 to £200,000PA.

“This mother is SAVING the taxpayer at least £120,000 every single year; like millions of other selfless individuals all over the UK.”

Benefit changes like these are never going to be popular, but I can’t help feeling it would be cheaper to let this mother do the caring which is driven by her love for her son.”

Surely these are the very people we should be honouring and supporting?