The government yesterday launched its consultation on reforms to Disability Living Allowance. I blogged extensively on it yesterday.
One of the huge – and, as far as I can see, new – announcements was that the government is considering rolling out the cuts to DLA not just to the 1.8m of working age in receipt of DLA, but also those under 16 and those over 65.
Given this, I thought it was timely to recall some recent history.
As part of their Green and White Papers on adult social care, Labour suggested using £100m of the Attendance Allowance budget to help pay for the National Care Service. (To put that figure in context, the Attendance Allowance budget for 2009/10 was £7.505bn.)
In response to the potential idea (contained in the Green Paper), Andrew Lansley and Theresa May said this, launching a “campaign to protect Britain’s pensioners”:
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Theresa May and Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley today pledged that the Conservatives would campaign to Protect Britain’s Pensioners against Gordon Brown’s plan to scrap the Disability Living Allowance and the Attendance Allowance…
Andrew Lansley said: “As ever with Gordon Brown you have to look at the small print. In order to set up a new National Care Service he is planning to take away vital benefits from the elderly and disabled… We don’t yet know what the Government’s plan for a National Care Service would really involve, but let me make it clear – it must not be funded by snatching benefits back from 2.4 million vulnerable pensioners.
“My pledge to you today is that we will Protect Britain’s Pensioners and fight against Gordon Brown’s plan to scrap benefits for the disabled.”
Theresa May added: “Labour has chosen to penalise one of the most vulnerable groups in our society for the sake of another eye catching announcement. As with every Labour initiative, someone has to pay and, as with many of them, it is the least able who are to be forced to do so.
“These benefits are a vital support for disabled pensioners and give them the chance to have an independent life with the freedom to tailor their care to their needs.
In his own Invitation to disabled people, David Cameron promised the Tories would be:
Protecting key benefits: the Winter Fuel Allowance, free bus passes, free TV licences and the pension credit. And unlike Labour, we will not scrap Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance for the over 65s.
Speaking in an opposition day debate in parliament on the topic of DLA and AA, the then Shadow Disability Minister Mark Harper MP:
criticised the proposals for taking away the “control and independence” that these benefits gives older disabled people. “This is a step backwards and I hope the 39 Labour MPs who’ve already signed the motion will vote to protect the benefits so valued by older disabled people”, he said.
Finally, Andrew Lansley cited approvingly the following early day motion at the start of an opposition day debate on disability benefits for older people:
That this House recognises the vital support that attendance allowance and disability living allowance provide for people with disabilities; notes that these benefits are intended to meet the additional costs of living with an impairment or long-term health condition; further notes with concern that approximately 2.87 million people in the UK who receive disability living allowance or attendance allowance are not eligible for social care services; acknowledges that some 20,000 individuals have petitioned the Prime Minister and many more have petitioned individual hon. and right hon. Members to ensure that these benefits are secured; welcomes the Government’s announcement that disability living allowance for people under 65 years will not be scrapped; and urges the Government to ensure that attendance allowance and disability living allowance for people aged 65 years and over are secured and not abolished as part of any future reform of the social care system.
I just thought you’d like to know.