Government refuses to rule out axing DLA
A senior government minister has confirmed to the House of Lords that axing DLA has definitely not been ruled out, under proposals suggested in the government green paper Shaping the Future of Care Together .
This is despite care minister Phil Hope MP assuring a reporter at the Labour Party conference in September that DLA is not under threat by the care green paper, saying:
""DLA is not under threat and people can be very happy"."
However, the Government failed to then confirm this. Judging by subsequent events, Phil Hope's statement now appears to have been either a slip by a minister who was unaware of his own Government's plans or an attempt to get positive party conference coverage by giving assurances the Government was not going to back.
In a debate in the House of Lords on Tuesday 13 October, veteran disability campaigner, Lord Ashley of Stoke asked which disability benefits the government are ‘considering integrating into the wider social care budget in England’.
Lord McKenzie of Luton, parliamentary under-secretary of state for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), replied:
"At this stage, we do not want to rule out any options and so are considering all disability benefits."
Later on in the debate, Lord Low of Dalston asked for clarification, specifically referring to Phil Hope's statement, saying:
"...given the reported statement by the Minister for Care Services that disability living allowance is not under threat, can the Minister confirm that neither component of the disability living allowance, whether paid to present or future recipients over as well as under 65, is being considered as a possible source of funding for social care?"
Lord McKenzie then repeated the Government position, contradicting Phil Hope, replying:
"My Lords, as I said in answer to the first Question, currently no particular benefit is ruled out of consideration. We are conscious of the fact that DLA is overwhelmingly used by people who are under 65, and obviously care needs are overwhelmingly for people who are older."
To see a transcript of the most relevant section of the Lords debate, click here. To view the full transcript on the health debate on Hansard, click here.