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"We're Spartacus!"

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Quote: "Spartacus report: Government buried opposition to Disability Living Allowance reform
The UK Government has been accused of deliberately concealing the extent of opposition to reform of a key disability benefit. Independent analysis undertaken by a team of disability campaigners has claimed that consultation on the future of the Disability Living Allowance was thick with criticism from disabled people’s organisations, charities and individuals, but many of these concerns were concealed.

The research team analysed 500 responses to the consultation on the future of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), after requested them under the Freedom of Information Act. The resulting report, dubbed the Spartacus report, claims to reveal the true level of disquiet towards disability reforms. The report details what researchers describe as “overwhelming opposition” to replacing DLA with a new Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The Government plans to cut spending on DLA/PIP by 20 percent.

“They reveal aspects of DLA reform were strongly criticised in consultation responses from disabled people’s organisations, charities and individuals. Notably 98% of respondents objected to the qualifying period for benefits being raised from three months to six months, 99% of respondents objected to Disability Living Allowance no longer being used as a qualification for other benefits and 92% opposed removing the lowest rate of support for disabled people,” reported The Herald Scotland.

“Looks as if the government’s been found out lying and misleading the people on the subject of disability allowances,” tweeted Stephen Fry.
You’re busted! A hard-hitting blog posting on Diary of a Benefit Scrounger insisted that Spartacus shows that “[t]he Government broke its own code of consultation over the DLA reform. The Government has entirely misrepresented the views submitted as part of the consultation, giving a partial and biased view. The Government claim that DLA must be reformed as claims has risen 30% in 8 years – we find that these statistics are entirely misleading and give a ‘distorted view.’ There is overwhelming opposition to the new benefit, Personal Independence Payments.”

“We believe reform must be measured, responsible and transparent, based on available evidence and designed with disabled people at the heart of decision-making. We urge members of the House of Lords to take note of this research and the strength of opposition. It is not too late for them to halt these reforms,” commented Sue Marsh, author of the blog Diary of A Benefit Scrounger, who helped co-ordinate the report.
Government response. A spokeswoman for the DWP, quoted in Herald Scotland, said the Spartacus report was a selective analysis of consultation responses, which had looked at 500 responses out of more than 5500 submitted on the Government’s proposals. She added, “Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit with the majority of people getting it for life without checks to see if their condition has changed. This has led to hundreds of millions of pounds in overpayments.”

Government buried findings. “Disabled people will be hurt by the government’s reforms. It is in everyone’s interest to help this fight,” insisted Alex Hearn on the LeftFootForward blog, who said the Spartacus report “shows the extent of the government’s suppression of evidence around the issue. The Department for Work and Pensions held a public consultation on the issue, but then proceeded to bury much of the findings.”" Go to

How it was done
Go to

Reading Ken Clarke's rather long winded & vage ramblings on his planned Disability Welfare & Legal-Aid Reforms is a strange experience for anyone concerned about the impact of removing access to free legal support for the less advantaged in our society.
He states:

"Without Legal-Aid and the dedicated lawyers who deliver it, our system of justice would quite simply collapse."
He is absolutely right.
He is also right that the legal aid system needs to "determine carefully which types of cases most urgently merit scarce resources". Clarke wants to "protect legal aid where it matters most".
The question is how he is able to make the leap from here to removing legal aid for people on low incomes who are left without the means to live after falling victim to inaccurate decisions or administrative error in the welfare system.
Disabled people – who are among the most economically impoverished in our society – make up 58% of those who receive legal aid for welfare benefit cases. This translates to more than 78,000 disabled people per year, who are helped by legal aid advisers to challenge benefits decisions that can leave many struggling.
Legal aid in this area is vital at the best of times, but right now the welfare system is undergoing massive change. That will almost certainly go hand-in-hand with implementation problems and shortfalls. Approximately 1.8 million people are being migrated from incapacity benefit onto employment and support allowance (ESA) or job seekers allowance; and the transition to universal credit during 2013 – 2017 will affect a reported 12 million people. Some 3.2 million will be caught up when disability living allowance becomes the personal independence payment.
For good measure the process the government is using to assess those on incapacity benefit – the work capability assessment (WCA) – is flawed.
Currently 39% of appeals against WCA 'fit-for-work' decisions are upheld. Alarmingly, in 60% of appeals in which disabled people were eventually found to qualify for additional support through ESA, their initial WCA allocated them 0 points. To qualify for employment support usually takes at least 15 points.
Reflecting on what exactly no points means, according to the test there wasn't anything stopping these people getting work. Yet there was, but they had to stand up to the DWP's bureaucracy to get that recognised.
A system already prone to errors will be put under more pressure by the rapid pace of the government's welfare reforms, which is likely to result in more people denied support or on the wrong benefit.
Legal aid doesn't just improve the welfare system, by getting people on the right benefit it also increases the efficiency of the appeals and tribunal process. Advisers will only recommend clients go for appeal if they judge there is a realistic chance of winning.
Take disability living allowance, which requires someone to prove if they are 'unable or virtually unable to walk', one is much more complex (virtually unable) and a number of factors have to be considered – including rest periods and speed. These details are crucial to understand, to see if the department has applied the test correctly, and if not, on what grounds to appeal.
Unfortunately Ken Clarke's ideas will leave tens of thousands of people denied legal support every year and forced to take charge of their own cases, without any clue about how to do so. The tribunal system is already creaking, and if he intended to make matters worse, Ken could not have timed this cut better.
I an left with no doubts whatsoever, this will lead to more people staying on the wrong benefits, and this will push more disabled people further into property and away from work. Clarke`s cuts are a false economy. Has his department worked out what the knock-on costs to society, the individual and the economy will be? I`m afraid to say, they have not!
The litmus-test of a `civilized` country, is its record on protecting its most vulnerable. Its poor, its disabled, its elderly, & its mentally ill." Go to
Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:45 pm
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