Campaigners like Steve Sumpter (@latentexistence), myself, Kaliya Franklin and Jane herself have been invited to explain on radio and TV today, just what the changes will mean.
As regular readers will know, the government have constantly misled the public over the new benefit, claiming a 35% rise when Spartacus Report showed clearly that the rise is only 13% for the working age group who will be affected. Physical conditions have remained totally stable, whilst the 13% rise is almost all due to a rise in mental health conditions and learning disabilities, a trend seen worldwide, not just in the UK.
The DWP misled the public over the first consultation, claiming broad support for the changes, when in fact there was almost none.
After a passionate journey through the House of Lords, the government simply overturned all of the amendments we'd won (amendments that were reasonable and could have made PIP safer and fairer) using an archaic 16th century law known as "financial privilege"
Even at that point, once the changes had become law, the government assured campaigners that once they announced the finer details of PIP, there would be no further policy changes, However, when "regulations" were finally announced just before Christmas, the criteria for claiming the most help with mobility problems had been slashed from 50 mtrs to 20 mtrs without consultation or warning.
This means that many of the most vulnerable claimants of all will no longer qualify. A whopping 600,000 of them. The ability to walk 50 mtrs might just get you to your car and out at the other end, to, say, get to a supermarket scooter. 20 mtrs will get few people from their homes to even their car, leaving over half a million sick or disabled people effectively housebound.
As we all rush from interview to interview, it's clear those put up to oppose us don't even understand DLA or what it does. With that in mind, I thought I'd lay out the key points here for any of you to use or pass on.
All we can do is set the record straight whenever we are given the chance, so do feel free to copy and paste the following and send to whoever you can.
1) DLA is a working benefit. It does not stop a sick or disabled person from working - quite the opposite in fact. It is often used for transport to and from a job if the recipient can't manage public transport, or for care at home, to enable the claimant to get up and dressed in the mornings just to get to work.
2) The number of DLA claims HASN'T risen by 35%, for working age claimants (the only one's affected by PIP) the rise is 13%. There has been almost no rise at all in claims for physical conditions, the rise is almost entirely down to an increase in mental health and learning disability claims, a trend seen in every country of the developed world. By far the biggest increases come from demographics, children or pensioners, groups the government aren't transferring to PIP.
3) There were always face to face assessments for DLA (Atos did those too) and claimants always had to support their claims with evidence from their own GP or consultant
4) The government claim DLA needs reform because so many get lifetime awards. However, they announced a few months ago that they won't even be testing those with indefinite claims at all until after the next election. Indefinite awards make up nearly 70% of all DLA awards and the government claim over and over that it is this group who have been "left to languish" yet they've decided to do nothing about it at all.
5) DLA does not act as a dis-incentive to work, far from it. 60% of disabled people in the UK work.
6) Fraud is just half of one percent as consistently proven by the DWPs own figures. Yet the George Osborne announced a 20% cut back in June 2010 before a single assessment had taken place.
7) DLA saves the taxpayer many times the amount it costs. Study after study shows that sick and disabled people spend their DLA with amazing efficiency. If DLA is withdrawn, the need doesn't just go away and costs are simply transferred to an already crumbling social care service or the NHS.
8) The higher rate mobility criteria was slashed from 50 mtrs to 20 mtrs without consultation or warning, meaning that over 600,000 people will no longer qualify for the benefit. These are people who can barely walk at all - the most vulnerable the government claim to be protecting.
9) In many cases, DLA is not even paid to the sick or disabled person, but goes directly to social services for care or to the motability scheme for a car modified to suit particular impairments
Please join us in countering the propaganda and mis-information our government are churning out today. Feel free to use these facts in any way. Every challenge shows a few more people what is really going on in their name.