Inclusion London Response to the Health and Disability Benefits Green Paper Consultation

Read our response to the Health and Disability Benefits Green Paper Consultation

In July 2021, the Department for Work and Pensions launched a consultation into their green paper, “Shaping Future Support.”

Inclusion London submitted a response to this consultation, based on our previous work on welfare benefits, and findings from two focus groups we held with member Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations across London.

Key Points:

  • The current system is over-complicated, and the information about how to apply for benefits is inaccessible, with £16 billion in means-tested benefits remaining unclaimed each year.
  • There should be better signposting to information, advice and advocacy services for claimants, however, it must be noted that due to cuts to the advice sector, it can be difficult, especially for Disabled people with access needs, to find good and accessible advice.
  • The DWP must improve the quality of and the number of staff manning their phone lines, so that people are not waiting for long periods of time to get their call answered.
  • The benefits system must be made accessible in the first place so that more people can more easily engage with it, and are not forced to reply on help from family or friends, which in many cases is not appropriate or available.
  • Inclusion London welcomes the DWP making commitments to making their services more accessible, however, this should have happened already as the DWP is subject to the anticipatory duty requirements in the Equality Act 2010.
  • There must be clear and accessible reasonable adjustments policy which must be widely publicised. The policy should not only set out existing adjustments the DWP can provide but set out the process of requesting and receiving adjustments in individual cases.
  • The must be an effective system of monitoring how well reasonable adjustments are implemented. Individual communication needs of claimants known to the DWP must be identified and systems put on place to meet those needs during all contact with the DWP or other organisations acting on its behalf.
  • Advocacy must be fully funded, be independent of the DWP and be rights-based. This would be best placed within local Disabled People’s Organisations whose workforce are people with lived experience of the process and are a trusted source of information, advice, and support.
  • Inclusion London believes that the DWP must reinstate the 50m rule with regards to mobility as a starting point to meet more Disabled people’s mobility needs.
  • Inclusion London is deeply concerned about the proposed mixing of health and work benefits.
  • The DWP should immediately abolish sanctions and conditionality for Disabled people.
  • The Low Capacity for Work component in Universal Credit should be restored, and the support group and higher rate of benefits for people in that ESA group should be retained.
  • Employment support should be voluntary, and accessed at the discretion of each claimant.
  • Employment support should focus on removing barriers and discrimination, and should be designed and delivered in co-production with Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations.
  • Access to Work must be reformed so that it is easy for users to navigate and apply for, and so that users are not having to pay for support out of pocket. It must be better advertised to both Disabled people and employers.
  • There must be more requirements and monitoring of organisations signed up to Disability Confident, and all employers must be currently employing Disabled people if they wish to achieve a higher level of certification.
  • Assessments must be redesigned so they are based on the social model, respect Disabled people’s dignity and start from a position of trusting what Disabled people say about their own impairments and needs.
  • PIP and WCA descriptors should be changed – many people with additional disability-related costs do not get PIP so criteria must be adapted to ensure that more people are eligible.
  • Disabled people with lifelong conditions that will not improve should not be subject to reassessments.
  • The DWP must be clearer on the type of medical evidence they are looking for, and Disabled people should not have to pay for said evidence.
  • A range of types of evidence from different professionals should be allowed, particularly for those people who do not have evidence from their GPs. This could include social workers, OTs and educational professionals.
  • Inclusion London welcomes the recording of assessments.
  • Inclusion London does not support the proposed merger of health and disability benefits, as these two benefits are designed to do two different things.
  • Inclusion London believes there should be no further cuts to benefits, and that all benefits should be uplifted and caps removed.
  • Inclusion London believes that many of the forms of practical support that is listed by the DWP in its Green Paper should already be supplied to Disabled people via social services, the NHS or other statutory bodies. The government must better fund DPO advice and information services so that Disabled people are better able to access these services.
  • Inclusion London believes that there needs to be a whole system reform of social security, based on the principles suggested by the Commission on Social Security.

Download the full text of Inclusion London’s response in word document format on this link:
IL Response to Health and Disability Benefits Green Paper Consultation