‘Government concealed scale of opposition to benefit reform’

Campaigners have accused the government of giving a misleading account of the true extent of opposition to disability benefit reform (Pic: Voisin/Phanie/Rex Features)

Woman in wheelchair
Woman in wheelchair

Campaigners have accused the government of giving a misleading account of the true extent of opposition to disability benefit reform.

A report written by disabled people, their friends and carers found that 74% of group respondents to a 2010 government consultation on replacing disability living allowance (DLA) with a new benefit, personal independence payment (PIP), were against the proposals. But in its summary of responses, published in April 2011, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said “it was clear from the responses received that some reform of DLA was welcomed.”

The report, Responsible Reform, was based on an analysis of 500 group responses to the consultation, obtained under Freedom Of Information requests.

It also claims that the DLA consultation did not meet the government’s own code of practice on consultation as it was two weeks shorter than recommended and took place over the Christmas holidays. And, the Welfare Reform Bill was presented to Parliament two days before the consultation ended, meaning that responses could not be taken into account when the legislation introducing PIP was drafted, the document argues.

The study has been dubbed the Spartacus Report, a reference to a 1960 film about a slave revolt in ancient Rome which has come to typify the idea of solidarity in adversity.

The DWP said it had had over 5,500 responses to its consultation and The Spartacus Report was a selective analysis of 500 responses from organisations only. 

It said its proposals for the PIP had developed significantly since the consultation and it had been working closely with disabled people and disability organisations.

(Pic: Voisin/Phanie/Rex Features)

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