At the end of July, when no-one was looking, the UK government launched a consultation on the future of Attendance Allowance (AA). This non means-tested benefit is claimed by people over 65 who need support because of long-term chronic illness or disability. If introduced, the proposals will stop direct disability payments to individuals, and the cash will be handed over to council's social services departments instead. Disabilisty Living Allowance (DLA) a benefit for those under 65 is also under threat.
Benefits and Work have an online petition opposing the plans. They say:
"Under the plan, current claimants would have their disability benefits converted to a personal budget administered by local authorities and used to pay for services, not to spend as they wish. We know that many people will take false comfort from the fact that, unlike AA, DLA is not specifically named as being for the axe. But if the government was planning only to abolish AA it is extremely unlikely that they would refer constantly throughout the green paper to 'disability benefits', a term which includes not just AA but also DLA."
Benefits and Work are looking for 1,000 people currently claiming the benefits to get in touch to help with their campaign. The National Autism Campaign (sic) have similar concerns and are asking people to contact them with their views before they submit their response to the consultation.
You can read the green paper here and have your say here.
The UK Labour government are playing a dangerous game. They are desperate to reduce public expenditure, but instead of getting back the estimated £40 billion in corporate tax evasion, their target is one of society's most vulnerable groups. The Welsh Assembly Government have yet to respond in full, but state that the proposals are unlikely to come into force until April 2014. Which party is most likely to be in control of the UK government in 2014? Are Labour irresponsibly paving the way for the Tories to remove a vital safety net?