Archive for April 20th, 2013

The Real Impact of PIP on Social Care

I’ve just finished reading about how PIP (Personal Independence Payments) will impact on social care services and it was really shocking. Simon Duffy from the Centre for Welfare Reform writes;

“The replacement of DLA with PIP will damage local communities by reducing the incomes of people in poverty, reducing charging income for social care and increasing the numbers entitled to social care. An average area will lose £7.5 million, but could add further costs of up to £11.25 million.”

Local councils spend a lot on social care for children and adults, in fact over 50% of their budgets are spent on it. Sadly, because it is where the most money is spent by already cash-strapped councils it is an area that is being hit hard by cuts. By 2015 local government is having it’s budgets cut by around 40%, with an average of 33% of that falling on social care.

Currently getting social care from your local council, can be like trying to squeeze blood from a stone. The level of disability that you must reach high that many in genuine need are turned away for not being “disabled enough” or they are turned away because the receive benefits like DLA which the council believes they can use to pay for care themselves. Those that do meet the standard often only receive about 8 hours of paid care a week with extra costs for much needed care being met by the disabled person or their families. This money, when not coming from personal wealth, comes the Independent Living Fund (ILF) – which is being scrapped – and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – which is now being replaced by PIP. With council social care budgets being reduced by 33% many more disabled people in need of care will no longer be able to access care via social services which will leave them reliant on other sources of funding.

With the ILF gone, and there being a very high incidence of poverty associated with disability I hope you can see why access to the money from DLA, now becoming PIP is already and will be even more crucial when it comes to purchasing much needed social care. The kicker is that the government are planning to use the transition to PIP to cut the numbers currently receiving DLA by between 20-28%. They believe that figure is representative of those who are receiving DLA fraudulently (by which I mean people who’s conditions have improved but who haven’t told the DWP about it) or are simply not disabled enough to need the extra income. This figure seems to have been pulled out of the air. Regardless of the flawed ideology behind the changes the end result will be less money from DLA/PIP for disabled people to spend on care which means they will have to rely on the local council. Dr Simon Duffy explains;

“The government intends to reduce spending on DLA by PIP [1]. This changes will be phased in by 2018, by which time it will cut the incomes of disabled people by £1.5 billion [2]. This means that an average local authority, with a population of 300,000, will lose income that has been targeted at disabled adults of over £7.5 million. This will be a further blow to local economies. In addition it will inevitably have a further knock-on effect for the social care system.”

As I mentioned earlier, many are told they can’t have social care because they get DLA. If only 5% of those who will be loosing DLA when it becomes PIP become eligible for social care then there will be a additional cost of £1.1m. If 25% become eligible then there will be an extra £5.6m cost and if 50% become eligible there will be an additional £11.25m cost. This means that councils could be loosing between £8.6m – £18.75m at a time when council budgets social care budgets are already stretched to breaking point.

Realistically, without getting extra funding from central government to make up the deficit, councils will have to respond by raising the bar regarding eligibility criteria. This will make it far harder for many disabled people to access much needed care. Without access to social care disabled peoples independence is sorely curtailed. For many of us social care means we can go to work, take part in everyday activities and live in our own homes. Taking that away will be devastating to the lives of many.

I believe that the government would have a far harder time justifying these cuts had they done a cumulative impact assessment first. A cumulative impact assessment is when they look at knock on costs (both financial and ethical) as well as savings of the total impact of all the cuts to disability related benefits and services. We are trying to put pressure on the government to produce a cumulative impact assessment via a e-petition, you can sign it by clicking this link.

References:
[1] Kennedy S (2012) Personal Independence Payment: an introduction. London, House of Commons Library.
[2] DWP (2012) Personal Independence Payment – Reassessment and Impacts. London, DWP
Notes on PIP’s Impact on Social Care by Simon Duffy, Centre for Welfare Reform

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