Friday 23 September 2011

Clause 52 - PLEASE help us tell people.

Guys, we've missed something vital. Of course, we could argue that the relevant charities and the entire investigative journo population has missed something vital, but as it's clearly just us few poorly people who care.

This brilliant post, yet again by Declan Gaffney explains all.

It took months and months to get things like time-limiting ESA or cutting DLA for adults in residential care high up the agenda. We don't have months now but 100s of 1000s of disabled children can't help that.

Please do what you can with this information, tweet it, cross-post it, share it, send it to the crossbench Lords I published, write to your MP, but please, this deserves as much if not more pressure than almost every other issue.

Post kindly reproduced here thanks to Declan and Left Foot Forward.

Yet another nasty in the welfare bill: Means testing support for the disabled-since-youth

On Saturday the LibDem conference passed a motion on the government’s welfare reform bill which challenged one of its most controversial aspects, the limiting of contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to one year for people assessed as capable of some ‘work-related activity’.

The aim of the motion was to ensure that those disabled people who had paid national insurance would not be forced on to means-tested benefits after an arbitrary period.

But there is another measure in the bill which will exclude large numbers of people from non-means tested entitlement which has attracted far less attention.

It is contained in clause 52 of the bill, which will prevent hundreds of thousands of young people with lifetime or early-onset disabilities from accessing contributory ESA when they reach working age, whether or not they are deemed capable of any ‘work-related activity’.

People who have been disabled since childhood will no longer be entitled to benefit in their own right as adults but will be subject to means testing based on the income of their family.

The provision that clause 52 abolishes allowed people under 20 with work-limiting conditions to be treated as if they met the national insurance contributions for ESA.

The rationale was that people with conditions that begin in childhood may never be able to accumulate sufficient contributions to entitle them to the non-means tested benefit. Even for a system which has its fair share of anomalies, this was clearly an arbitrary exclusion.

While hardly perfect, this arrangement prevented a situation where people with lifetime or early-onset conditions would generally have less favourable entitlements than people who became disabled in adulthood.

We can get a rough idea of the numbers who will affected by clause 52 and the conditions they are living with from figures on children receiving Disability Living Allowance, the non-means tested benefit which compensates for the additional costs faced by disabled people.

There are an estimated 327,000 children under 16 currently receiving DLA. By far the most important disabling condition for this group is learning disability (41%), followed by mental health problems (10%).

While not all of these children will be eligible for ESA in adulthood, and there will be many who are eligible for ESA who are not receiving Disability Living Allowance, these figures do point to one important implication of clause 52: given that around 75 per cent of 25-34 year-old DLA recipients are also on ESA, a large proportion of those affected will have learning difficulties or mental health problems at the more severe end of the spectrum.

This may help explain why a policy which will particularly affect entitlement for people with learning difficulties could look attractive from a narrow fiscal perspective, although from a broader policy persepective, the growth of claims by people with learning disabilities represents a desirableoutcome, reflecting increased life expectancy and less reliance on institutional care.

The question posed by clause 52 is why would anyone want to do this? Of course the proposal will save money: the savings could well be significant, precisely because financial support is being withdrawn from people many of whom will never be able to support themselves.

At the same time there are likely to be offsetting effects. The impacts on work incentives for other family members are likely to cut in to any fiscal savings – how many parents or partners would be as well off leaving work and claiming carer’s allowance after this change?

Some people who would otherwise have lived as part of a family will move into rented accommodation and claim housing benefit as well as possibly having greater needs for local authority support services. And demand for institutional care is likely to be swollen by those cases where independent living is not an option and where families are simply unable to meet the additional financial cost.

But even without these factors undermining any savings, and even if one completely accepted the government’s arguments for aggressive deficit reduction, there are better and worse ways of reducing public expenditure, and making long-term disabled adults dependent on their families is surely at the worse end of the range.

If they are unable to work and wish to remain in the family home, they will be imposing the burden of their maintenance on their parents and siblings. If they marry or move in with a partner, they will be bringing a huge negative dowry of long-term financial need to the relationship.

Why would we want to impose a tax on families and partners who are providing non-financial forms of support?

Why would we want more disabled adults to have to factor in the financial costs they might impose on others into critical decisions about where to live and who to live with?

Why, in a wealthy country with a functioning welfare state, should any parent ever be faced with the question of whether they can afford to have their disabled child living with them into adulthood?

I don’t believe that anyone of any political persuasion seriously believes these effects are desirable. For thirty years there has been a clear direction of policy on severe long-term disability, accepted and promoted by all the main parties: towards greater independence and community support, away from segregation, institutionalisation and enforced dependency.

Of course there will always be a need for debate about ways and means but unconditional financial support in one’s own right is one of the more uncontroversial building blocks of any strategy for greater autonomy and integration for the most severely disabled.

Clause 52 represents a major departure from the spirit of decades of progressive policy making by successive UK governments. Those who are concerned with arbitrary restrictions on contributory ESA have every reason to extend their concerns to clause 52.

Thanks to Kaliya Franklin, Richard Exell and Kate Bell for their advice on this piece. The content and opinions expressed are of course the sole responsibility of the author.

A longer version of this article is available here

See also:

Help stop government changes to welfare penalising disabled children – Sam Royston, August 15 2011

Why did DWP delay releasing new data until after welfare reform bill cleared Commons?– Daniel Elton, August 12th 2011

IDS welfare reforms won’t provide the support needed to escape poverty – Kayte Lawton, May 27 2011

Disabled people’s fight to save support “lifeline” – Dominic Browne, May 11th 2011

Call for “anti-disability” provisions to be removed from welfare bill – Shamik Das, March 7th 2011


  1. SO this government just gets nastier and nastier and a whole lot bloody nastier.Not content with robbing the poorest and condeming people to even more poverty just because they are unlucky enough to be,or become,sick or disabled they now really have sunk to new level of sick thinking with this latest news.I am not often lost for words and i have never ever been a tory despite my family being bluer than thatcher and you know we all expect levels of sick thinking from the bullingdon bastards but this is just beyong belief.They waste millions on IT systems that would never have worked ,they sell of the national asset that is the NHS,they sell off the newly built olympic village for 350 million less than it cost to build ,they are spending billions on a new GPS satellite system in which they will charge us for using the roads (kept that one quite didnt they) and the list goes on, and they bloody moan now that the new regime on claiming thier expenses,which we bloody pay for,is too cumbersome and time consuming and even more expensive to administer (who thought that scheme up eh) and yet they still take take take from the people.GOD ALMIGHTY when we will we all say ENOUGH and go down there and put these heartless twats out on the streets with no 65 grand plus exes a year and all that they can carry off in the meantime.Just who the fuck ate they that they think we will take anymore .ARE we all so feckless and stupid and conditioned in to taking this shit that they can getaway with anything.There is a crap storm of a world financial crisis that is blowing and getting worse ...yes true and its oh so bloody true,but we didnt cause this shit greedy bankers and greedy politicians caused this and while we bail out the banks with PUBLIC money they take it and use it as capital deposits for thier own gain and we are letting them and i doing so we are paying double and treble.WE paid to bail em out ,we a pay for the austerity they caused and we will pay again and again both financially and socially and still we take it.What world will we give the future citizens and children and what will we say when they ask ...why did you let it continue....

  2. Sarcboy - When I stop to think of it that way, it really is unbelievable, you're right.

    Our world politicians are now scrabbling to rush to a position of ...... oh yes, Plan B. But it took the brink of disaster to make it happen.

    It's so clear to see how foolish and totally unable to rise to the enormous challenges we face.

    Lagarde is shaping up a lot better than I ever thought she would, we just have to hope she can drag them kicking and screaming to some degree of sense.

  3. "The question posed by clause 52 is why would anyone want to do this?"

    Read Ayn Rand and it all makes perfect sense. Taxation is Theft - thus any transfer to those unable to compete in the market is necessarily inefficient. Making life as difficult as possible for such people either forces them into the market at whatever rate they can command, or eliminates them from the equation. There is no such thing as a 'right' to even a subsistence income, healthcare or education. We are free floating individuals making our own way. Even charity is wrong-headed because it attempts to sustain the unsustainable.

    The problem moderates have is that they cannot enter the mind-set of the neoliberals driving policy, can't quite believe just how far their extreme their views will take us. They seek to eradicate the public realm.

    Clause 52 exemplifies this approach. It makes no sense unless you view the world through the prism of right-wing libertarianism. Then, allowing a woman with MS to sit in her own excrement all night, removing benefit from the most severely disabled and denying disabled children 'hand-outs' can be seen as improving the efficiency of the economy.

  4. Ayn Rand took America as the model of what a nation of free people could be. In short the American model is basically two wolves and a well-armed sheep voting on what’s for dinner (or rather was) today the sheep is aging and disabled the arms have become obsolete and the wolves grow ever more aggressive and hungrier and have taken on powerful reinforcements. The UK has no equivalent check and balance or even a written Constitution it’s all done on “trust”. The UK people gave up or more accurately had their rights and responsibilities taken away by government in exchange that these would be controlled and done on their behalf – one example “policing by consent”. (TAX + Nanny (welfare) State) if this model is to be changed than it would require restoration of the lost powers, rights, lands and wealth (redistribution of wealth) in order to work.

  5. Hi folks.

    David Cameron knows what it's like to have a disabled child for goodness sakes - you'd think he would have raised objection to this.
    But then he wouldn't have had to worry about this had his poorly son lived - he could have afforded to ensure his son had the best possible care (didn't stop him claiming though)

    If the 12-month cap on contributory ESA comes in, for anyone affected, don't forget about the savings limit.

    If a child is disabled as a result of medical negligence, or a member of HM forces, fire service, police etc. get compensation, means-testing will mean that they will have to use that money to live on rather than claim. They won't be allowed to any more if the rules apply to everyone.

    On the face of it, if a limbless ex-soldier has many thousands in army compensation, and/or a small pension, people might feel they shouldn't claim as well - but when you think about how long this money has to last, and adaptations to the home (even paying for a home) which compensation is designed for, it's pretty draconian.

    Does anyone know if these sorts of payments are exempt? If they're not, then I'm sure someone at the Daily Mail (much as I detest their politics and their benefits scrounger rhetoric) would have a field day if they thought "our brave lads" would suffer further.

    I must declare an interest - my daughter serves in the RAF (fit and well!) but the thought that she'd get means-tested if she were injured makes me very angry.

    And I'm gong through the Atos mill for the third time in less than 2 years - 35 years in health and social care and this is my life now - worried all the time.

    Can't be good for my health!

    Soldier on, all.

  6. PS
    Just written to LFF to ask if they know the answer re.compensation.
    I'll let you know what they say.

  7. Philip Gould: 'If you accept death, fear disappears'

    This is a former spin doctor from labour i know him well
    He's got cancer and has not long to live read what he has to say he is now much more on the left and rightly so as that is where all decent people are

    Every person i have ever met in life who was a tory on the right once they become ill they turn fully to the left how odd

    Yes they stick the boot in when there well and as soon as they get ill or disabled they say sorry i didn't understand please forgive me they say

    Well i have heard that all through my life from right wingers like David Cameron and yet even thow he son died he still treats people like me badly and i tell you now he will never change which just goes to show what sort of mad man he is and ed milliband which should be ripping him apart cant as he doesn't even know how that to is madness but true

    So at the labour conference i fully expect ed like nick clegg at the liberal conference to say nothing at all about the sick and disabled

    At least i know i will be right as i always am and always will be

  8. “We are all in this together” I am not sure what “this” is but its deep and warm and smells like sh…t

  9. Anonymous above ...well the us has no chekcs or balances either.Its all very well having a constitution but it means nothing to those who dont recognise it and the political elite dont and never have.It may look like they do but the large underclass there tells a different story and it is rapidly becoming the same here.WE have to face it democracy is an illusion and its a corporate dominated world.They have the power to influence and control the debate by employing powerfull lobby companies to change any debate to serve thier own vested interests and along with the banks they own the governments.They are now so bloody worried that the whole ponzi scheme will fall bexuase they have milked the cow dry and its gonna die that they are scrambling around robbing and clawing at whatever amount of money they can to prop up the illusion and hoping above all hope that it works because if it doesnt then the outcome is too bleak to think about for us all not just them.
    What we need is a new system of regulation of the whole world financial system for the people by the people on behalf of all the people.It is a global world that is truly interlinked and becuse it effects us all it is therefore truly responsible to us all.Governments should do no harm to its people first and foremost.They should not be our oppresors but our servants.They dont and we let them get away with this again and again ......and the future generation deserve far far better

  10. @ sacboy
    Below is what according to Labour the UK “voters” want…in other words the voters seem to have become more right wing than the Labour Party. I am not clear exactly what the “voters” want Labour to oppose below since what they are asking for is already being implemented – the deaths of the disabled and sick and the unemployed will soon follow. Do they want Labour to become another right wing party and join in with the slaughter or what? but then there will be no opposition.
    “But the experience of the last year suggests voters are not yet convinced Labour has the qualities to form a credible opposition, let alone an effective government. “It’s been quite a tough process," Mr Byrne confessed. "Most of us who've spent a lot of time on the doorstep over the last couple of years knew the type of thing we'd get – and we got it, both barrels.”
    The consultation suggests Labour will need to change its priorities if it is to get back in line with the electorate's primary concerns. Welfare was a recurring theme. Mr Byrne admitted that "many people thought we stood for shirkers and not workers".

  11. Well i havent read the link yet but before i do and comment on that i have to say that Labour is not and hasnt been for a long long time the party of the left in the political spectrum and there is the rub.We are beset by the machinations of a devisive media run by people with no morals, as we have seen in the recent and ongoing phone hacking scandal,riddled with the plague of vested interests and no interest in promoting or helping to build a fairer society for ourselves and or children which is in itself a vehicle for the agenda of the right and the corporate tax avoiding robber barons of the modern age and nowhere do we ever see labour presenting anything resembling like a strong and opposing view .remeber alot of the problems besiging the nhs now were started by labour with its PFI iniatives which have cost far more than we are ever told and yes some improvements did appear ,if we believe things like waiting list figures and such,but such uses of pfi played right in to the tory ethos and my how they are running with that ball now so no i dont see any party of the left at all and to say now they doorstepped and knew the type of things theyd get well they didnt need specsavers to see that coming did they.
    You dont need eyes to see you need VISION or they could do what they should have done, but fort the arrogance of the lot of them,and that was to engage and bloody listen to what we the people who put em up there on the pedestal wanted and that is to do the job we payed em for and not lean to the right when the climate suited .You dont need a party full of young ones with degrees in politics all you need is a party full of people with common sense.

  12. [QUOTE]sarcboy
    You don't need a party full of young ones with degrees in politics all you need is a party full of people with common sense.[/QUOTE]

    That my friend is spot on and although i don't know of you but you are unlikely to use a better phrase of words in your lifetime in fact none of us are

    When i become ill 30 years ago i couldn't do anything so i took to just being the chairman of the block of flats i lived in at the time and with the help of an accountant took on the freehold got the various tradesman together to look after the estate and then for the next 25 years let the estate look after itself in which i didn't need to get involved and the estate today is perfect just like the day it was built when i moved in

    The reason for the estate being not only the most successful in the whole of Sussex and the cheapest in maintenance costs was very simple i applied just common sense as that is all that was needed

    If i was fit i would be leading anything i undertook just as was in the bank of england i have always been a leader i sound like one i don't look like one however courtesy of the years of abuse by the DWP

  13. Thanks very much fourbanks i must admit it is one of my better ones and it should stand the test of time as all truth does.All laws and social policy should have common sense enshrined in thier inception and deliverance and as idealistic as that sounds it would be a baseline for society to never fall below and one in which a true fair society would be built from and lets face it once and for all we have failed in the last decade of the 20th century to carry on the ideals and aims of what should have been by now a road further travelled towards that goal.We are letting these bastards set us all back to a new fuedal age.I too have been ill for 15 plus years now and at nearer 60 than 50 i fear for what awaits in old age and what awaits for our childrens future with the wholesale dismantling of our society by those who purport to be in it with us together and you will know better the machinations of the financial system and the abyss we are on there but i dont see Labour or anyone else as saviours here politically ,financially or socially. A friend of mine once came to my house with a gadget that we should all buy and take to these conferences.It gave out a loud warning when a certain thing was detected,and it had a voice like the robot on the film Forbidden Planet (or Lost In Space as it was similar) it said Warning Warning Bullshit Detected Warning Warning....though with the poliicians we have now these days they wouldnt last long so we should all have a couple each....maybe a million or so of these going off at once would make these idiots would give us a laugh at least in these dark days eh!!!!

  14. A thing that maybe worth letting people know but I need to be a little careful with because my ESA is not signed and sealed yet - they are at least transferring people who originally started claiming IB onto ESA as contribution rather then forcing a means test. I know this doesn't solve anything for all the young people growing up with disabilities but it seems worthwhile mentioning as I couldn't find this info anywhere.

    In my phone conversation I got a *very* clear confirmation that current IB young person claimants would be treated as contribution based claimants.