The government has been threatened with legal action if it presses ahead with plans to make cuts to disability living allowance (DLA).
The threat has been issued by campaign group Disability Alliance, who has warned that the proposals risk breaching duties under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
Last June, the Department for Work and Pensions announced its intention to cut projected spending on DLA by 20% over the next four years. It would be replaced with a new benefit – personal independence payment – with tighter eligibility criteria, based on a face-to-face assessment.
Ministers are also considering removing the entitlement to the DLA mobility component from those in residential care.
A Disability Alliance survey found that half of employed DLA claimants may have to give up work if they are deemed ineligible for the benefit, while nearly one in ten said losing DLA would make life not worth living.
“Deal with this now or we will be taking action later,” said Neil Coyle, director of policy at Disability Alliance.
Disability Alliance has issued a warning letter to the Department for Work and Pensions, calling on it to demonstrate that it has considered the impact of its proposals on disabled people, as required under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
The government ran a consultation over the winter which garnered over 5,500 responses and published its reply in April. But Coyle, said this had not addressed the issues at hand. “The consultation response is pitiful. It did less than nothing to address the legitimate concerns of disabled people,” he said.
He said that while the charity did not want to take legal action it was left with little choice. “We are a year from the policy announcement and less than six months from the government’s intended enactment. Time is fast running out for the government to consider its legal obligations,” he said.
“We are following the usual processes and are working with disability organisations on DLA reforms, including with the design of the assessment,” said a DWP spokesperson. “It is premature to talk about a judicial review as the regulations do not go through until 2012.”
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