50 shades of possible changes

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The changes to welfare payments over the next four years announced by the Chancellor last week means that over half a million disabled people could sadly lose out. The Government claiming it would be fairer, but charities question this.

After George Osborne announced this cut to the Personal Independent Payment (PIP) from these already vulnerable people, a significant number of Conservative MP’, recognising the drastic effects on thousands of people’s lives, warned him that they were ready to throw out his plans. They have written a letter to the Chancellor requesting he rethinks his plans.  Iain Duncan Smith resigned as work and pensions secretary, denouncing £4bn of planned cuts to disability benefits as “indefensible”.

If these changes are forced in, it could in real terms, leave disabled people, who need extra assistance, £3,500 a year worse off whilst the cost of the paid care they need remains the same.

The formula the government uses to calculate the daily living component of the Personal Independent Payment is set to change.  It is calculated on a points system which determines what level of help they need.  The amount awarded can vary between £21.80 to £139.75 a week.

It is assessed by an individual visiting a disabled person at home. Is very worrying that many disabilities i.e. brain injury are invisible and these assessors are not always suitability qualified to understand their difficulties.

Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive at the disability charity ‘Scope’, said these changes would make it harder for some disabled people to qualify for the benefit.

The Minister for Disabled People claims that some items required are already found within the home therefore do not need to be purchased, such as a chair or bed. Personally I would like to say here that it is only when you find yourself in a situation of being disabled do you truly understand which chairs, beds etc you can or cannot use.

Recently I had reason to purchase a new bed, the assistant kindly told me he didn’t want to be rude but I was clearly disabled therefore if I liked one particular bed it might be VAT free. As it turned out it only applied to the firmest of mattresses designed for heavier people. If you are slight and need a mattress to aid comfort and support when you are disabled, you simply do not qualify for VAT exemption. Many items a disabled person may need to buy such as cutlery, keys for public toilets are very expensive and not VAT exempt.

It is vital the PIP reflects the extra costs disabled people are forced to cover otherwise what is its worth? It looks like some Government individuals are stripping the already disadvantaged to merely ease budgets.

What are your thoughts on this?

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