They’ve been and gone and done it again!! First they came up with Seven Ps for the Vision for Adult Social Care. Now, they’ve added two more Ps to the Con Dem Coalition Dictionary.
They are to give us the PIP!
Oxford English Dictionary (OED):
to have (also get) the pip: to be (or become) depressed, despondent, or unwell.
to give a person the pip: to annoy or irritate; to make angry, bad-tempered, or dispirited.
The proposed PIP has already achieved its purpose with me!
The proposed PIP is the Personal Independence Payment, a 21st century replacement for the DLA (Disability Living Allowance). The Consultation Document arrived yesterday.
“We are committed to a sustainable and fair system that allows people to work when they can and provides unconditional support to those who are unable to work.” Allowing people to work when they ‘can’ will require the creation of jobs; denying or even giving people the PIP will not create those work opportunities. Unconditional support? That may be a first from the Coalition. It’s hard to see where that unconditional support will come from, when you read some of the inflammatory language used to describe people in receipt of benefits, words that should never have entered the Coalition Dictionary.
“…. work is the best form of welfare for those who are able to do so” provides a new Coalition Dictionary definition of welfare. Or is Maria Miller meaning the kind of happiness that David Cameron was talking about measuring, with £2m to be spent on a ‘happiness index’. In my own family, the ‘welfare’ of working at a certain Remploy establishment never provided much happiness for our person with a disability, nor did it provide a decent salary; it provided an exceedingly boring, unbelievably repetitive and demeaning job that nobody would have chosen to do, had it not been forced onto a disabled person as the only ‘option’, and with very little in the way of financial reward.
“The rising caseload and expenditure is unsustainable” – but disability does not discriminate; disability arrives without warning and without counting the financial cost that a caring society should be able to manage. Soon our discriminatory Con Dem Coalition – that arrived without warning and without giving us all the chance to count the cost – will make disability vanish altogether. Now that really would be progressive, and if they can manage to achieve that one, I’m sure many disabled people will be enormously grateful. But a caring government cannot turn a blind eye to disability. Unless, of course, we don’t have a caring government. Or unless we have at present a government with a disability.
“Instead, each case will be looked at individually, considering the impact of the impairment or health condition, rather than basing the decision on the health condition or impairment itself.” – I wonder if they’ve counted the cost of that plan, because that surely will be unsustainable.
“The new assessment will focus on an individual’s ability to carry out a range of key activities necessary to everyday life.” These sound so much like the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) that are preventing so many vulnerable elderly people with dementia from receiving the healthcare and support they need. According to the fuzzy thinking of some local authority bean counters (a.k.a. the finance department) ADLs only require ‘social care’, but not healthcare. Is that where we are now heading? Towards a world where disability is no longer to be considered anything to do with health, but only a function of being a person in the (small) society? Requiring the need to carry out only the basic ADLs of life? Apart from the special equipment that a disabled person may need to perform the ADLs “necessary to everyday life”, are we now about to prescribe life? Or should that be proscribe? Who is to judge and dictate?
“this will involve a face-to-face meeting with an independent healthcare professional, allowing an in-depth analysis of an individual’s circumstances.” – Another unsustainable cost. Transforming itself from cost to gain – to a sustainable gain for the independent healthcare professional fraternity that will no doubt emerge via a for-profit Provider of Independent Professionals (see below!).
“We know that some people’s needs may change over time, and sometimes so gradually that the customer themselves won’t notice.” The customer? The customer???? What an unwelcome and insensitive word to use to describe someone with a disability. But it may be a revealing word – revealing the way in which people with a disability are seen by our Con Dem Coalition. You’re just a customer – so if you don’t like what we have ‘on offer’ go elsewhere. But there is no ‘elsewhere’. Sad!
“in line with the Government’s new strategy on fraud and error, there will be penalties if an individual knowingly fails to report a change that would have resulted in a reduction in benefit” How sad to see mention of ‘fraud’ so early in a request for consultation. What is the total cost of DLA fraud? Where is the evidence for that claim? Please publish proof – 3 more Ps to add to the Coalition Dictionary!
“We must ensure that our resources are focused on those with the greatest need.” There is an unspoken message here, the implication being that there will be a severe scaling of disability and the exclusion of those disabled people who are not deemed to be in greatest need. Critical needs only? Severe needs maybe but not guaranteed? Moderate needs possibly but unlikely? All the normal needs associated with a disability – probably not a cat’s chance in hell of the focus being on those needs.
“The definitions currently used are subjective and reflect views of disability from the 1990s, not the modern day. For example, ‘mobility’ as currently defined concentrates on an individual’s ability to walk, not their ability to get around more generally.” Are we to receive a definition of mobility according to the Coalition Dictionary?
“One will be awarded on the basis of the individual’s ability to get around (the mobility component), the other on their ability to carry out other key activities necessary to be able to participate in daily life (the daily living component).” “Eligibility – The individual must have a long-term disability” – HELP!!! That’s a Coalition Dictionary definition of disability.
“Personal Independence Payment will only be available to those with a long-term health condition or impairment.” as above!
“Our initial proposal is that the assessment should consider activities related to an individual’s ability to get around, interact with others, manage personal care and treatment needs, and access food and drink.”
“This might mean, for example, considering an individual’s ability to get about in a wheelchair, rather than ignoring the wheelchair, as we do currently.” What will be the consequences for a person with cerebral palsy, say, who is not able to stand and walk without the support of two walking sticks, and who cannot take one single unassisted step before falling to the ground, but who has made the personal choice not to use a wheelchair whilst preferring to use two walking sticks to aid mobility from chair to table, from table to bathroom, from bathroom to bed, from front door to car (with hand-controls, and all paid for by the person), from car to place of work, from …. etc etc etc? Is that person to be categorised as ‘fully mobile’ or ‘could be fully mobile if we force her/him to use a wheelchair or else we remove his/her PIP?’ This plan is beginning to scare me.
Or will a person with exactly the same disability as another be entitled to PIP because she/he makes the personal choice of walking with sticks rather than using a wheelchair as an aid to mobility? Whereas a person with exactly the same disability and the same manifestations of that disability is to be denied PIP because she/he makes the personal choice of using a wheelchair? Yes, I am confused by this one.
“What aids and adaptations should be included? Should the assessment only take into account aids and adaptations where the person already has them or should we consider those that the person might be eligible for and can easily obtain?” And would those aids and adaptations be chosen by the person? Or merely the ones the PIP decision-makers decide can be afforded by this onslaught on people with a disability?
“What would be the implications for disabled people and service providers if it was not possible for Personal Independence Payment to be used as a passport to other benefits and services?” Surely that question does not need to be asked – it’s obvious.
“The social model of disability says that disability is created by barriers in society. We remain committed to the social model of disability. The new assessment will not be based solely on the medical model of disability and focused entirely on an individual’s impairment, but will instead focus on the ability of an individual to carry out a range of key activities necessary for everyday life.” This obsession with the ‘activities necessary for everyday life’ must surely go against everything the Disability Discrimination Act has ever stood for.
“Many people think that disability is caused by an individual’s health condition or impairment. This approach is called the medical model of disability.” The fact remains that some disability is indeed caused by an individual’s health condition or impairment, and that cannot be ignored. You cannot change the focus of disability from medical to social needs. Disability is not created by barriers in society – however, the barriers in society often increase the disability. Chicken and egg! The Con Dem Coalition has no mandate to scramble eggs, for the convenience of – and in the best interests of – the Con Dem Coalition’s sustainability.
“measuring each individual’s expenditure would be administratively complex and expensive” – and yet the plan is to assess and review each and every single application and applicant? How will we be able to afford the one, but not the other? The costs will be enormously expensive but will come via the creation of a new pot of gold for a new breed of independent Providers of Independent Professionals (a different kind of PIP!!) – a new bandwagon for the ‘for-profit health and care providers’ to pounce on.
In the recent past, Tory MP Rory Stuart described some of his constituents as “primitive people, holding up their trousers with bits of twine”.
The Government decided to get tough – on benefit scroungers by bringing in Experian to assist with bounty-hunting of the poor
The magnificent IDS (Iain Duncan Smith) decided to talk of sin, when referring to people who were without work.
Then along came Howard Flight, Tory peer, with his preposterous claim that changes to the child benefit system would encourage the poor to “breed”.
Where next? Perhaps those who are unfortunate enough to be in receipt of a disability will all be required to PIP off to a Dickensian workhouse. Or why not swap places with the House of Commons’ scroungers?
The Con Dem Coalition members are unlikely to be on the receiving end of many of the decisions they are now making. I just hope there will be a system in place to pick up the pieces of their decision-making.