The is Mark's letter to the Evening News (responding to both Chloe Smith MP and Maria Miller - Maria fMiller's article was published in the same edition)
In her monthly diary (EN, May 13) Chloe Smith tries to present the changes to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) as a way of ‘improving it’. Last Wednesday up to 10,000
disabled people and their supporters marched on Parliament in the largest disability demonstration ever. Our members lobbied Miss Smith and the other Norfolk MPs to challenge the Coalition government’s approach to disability and the cuts to benefits and local authority services, including DLA. I find it strange that Chloe fails to mention this in her column. Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People (NCODP) challenges this disingenuous position. Neither the Conservatives nor the Lib Dems had reforms to DLA in their manifestos or in the Coalition agreement.
When Miss Smith attended our pre-election meetings in Norwich just over a year ago she actually stated: “I have been speaking up in Parliament to keep DLA and
attendance allowance (AA) for over 65s. Scrapping them fills me with outrage. “The fact that a non-means tested benefit can be taken away from those who need it and passed back to Whitehall, concerns me.”
What we are dealing with here is a democratic deficit – a Coalition government attacking the rights and living conditions of disabled people. NCODP is against the proposed cuts and rationing of DLA. We believe these proposals are a regressive measure which will disproportionately penalise disabled people, who rely on DLA to meet the increased costs of their disability
NCODP believes the effect of the cuts and changes in benefits and tax changes imposed by central government and cuts to local authority services will disproportionately affect disabled people, children and their families and carers. They are discriminatory and if implemented will result in further isolation, institutionalisation and unprecedented levels of poverty for many disabled people and their families.
Nationally the average income of a household with a disabled person in it is about a fifth lower than that of other households. This was the understanding that underpinned the introduction of DLA – to mitigate the effects of the additional costs of disability. However DLA is being cut by 20pc and the eligibility bar is being raised.
NCODP commissioned UEA economist Dr Chris Edwards to investigate and provide the hard evidence to prove it. This is what he found: “As a direct consequence of the changes to benefits and cuts to Norfolk County Council services, the poorest 53pc of disabled people in Norfolk, about 100,000 people and their families, will see their living standards decline by a third over the next four years.” This is the real cost of the cuts.
CEO, Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People.
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