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I, along with many others, wrote a couple of weeks ago about giving support to the One Month Before Heartbreak (OMBH) campaign against the current government’s proposed reforms to Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Despite the campaign generating thousands of hits for the OMBH web pages, I have been somewhat dismayed that the numbers signing the petition (4,387 at 7 February 2011) do not reflect this apparent level of interest.

On a personal level, expressing disappointment at the number of friends asking: what’s it all about? EazyD said: if you weren’t disabled, let’s be honest, we’d have no idea, would we? And, he’s right.

The mainstream media has paid little attention to this topic – the print media in particular reiterating only the government line about ‘unacceptable’ increases in claimants and the absence of checks on long-term claimants. {Hello – this is an allowance given to assist with the costs of severely disabled people … shock, horror – many such conditions are life-long!} The government consultation period is shorter than usual and has coincided with the snow/Christmas period of nonsense news.

Under these circumstances, it is possible to comprehend that those unaffected by DLA allowances are unaware of, or supporting, the reform proposals as part of the whole benefits reform package.

But whilst there obviously are, and always will be, a lot of people out there whose world doesn’t have a lot of disability/chronic illness in it, if 3.2million people do receive DLA, how is it possible that only 4,387 of them are aware of, and willing to sign a petition against, the reform proposals?

The numbers visiting the OMBH web pages, themselves linked directly to the petition, suggest that awareness has not translated to support. Is it just me wondering why?

One reason might be that a number of organizations have organized their own protests and rebuttals to the reforms. The entire response against reform, whilst disseminated, will be greater in total than just one petition suggests. Sadly, the lack of cohesion in our protests must diminish the power of them – much to the government’s relief, I’m sure.

But even with such rationalization, two questions are niggling away at me:

  1. How much support can be reasonably expected from those who don’t receive, and have no personal investment in, DLA when those who do seem apathetic to reform?
  2. Will the government even register our protests at all – when hundreds of thousands support, and sign up to, petitions to save forests, libraries, schools at al?

There are good reasons to sign the petition against the government’s DLA reform proposals, and for those who’ve asked, this is why:

  • Existing levels of fraudulent claims are acknowledged by the DWP to be negligible. The process of claiming is via a detailed document of 39 pages asking intimate personal questions with reference to GP, consultant and other therapists. PIP adds nothing to this existing process.
  • The costs of rebranding from DLA to PIP are unnecessary – both are non means-tested allowances to help cover the additional costs of disability. PIP is no simpler or easier to understand than DLA. Why bother to change the name?


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