Daily bur­den of de­pend­ing on fam­ily care

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Edel Ke­nealy

A young man with a learn­ing dis­abil­ity car­ries ‘a weight of worry’ af­ter he was re­fused a per­sonal in­de­pen­dence pay­ment.

Al­lan Brown spoke to the Re­former about how hard it is to se­cure fi­nan­cial sup­port un­der the new wel­fare sys­tem, days af­ter the UK Govern­ment did a U-turn on pro­pos­als that would make it even harder for dis­abled peo­ple to ac­quire daily help.

Al­lan, from King’s Park, ap­plied for a per­sonal in­de­pen­dent pay­ment as his learn­ing dis­abil­ity means he strug­gles to pre­pare and cook meals, un­der­stand let­ters and bills sent to him and bud­get his money ef­fec­tively.

But, with two points awarded to him for each of the three dif­fi­cul­ties, Al­lan failed to meet the eight points re­quired to gain the pay­ment.

Un­der the pre­vi­ous sys­tem, known as dis­abil­ity liv­ing al­lowance, he would have se­cured low-rate care on the ba­sis he is un­able to cook a sim­ple meal, ir­re­spec­tive of the ad­di­tional chal­lenges he faces ev­ery day.

At 24 years old Al­lan feels the bur­den of th­ese tasks is un­fairly placed on his mother.

He said: “It would be a weight off my shoul­ders, know­ing that I’m get­ting that bit of ex­tra help from other peo­ple. I worry about the fu­ture week to week.”

Al­lan se­cured a job as a stew­ard with G4S but is on a zero- hours con­tract and can go for days with­out a shift.

“I can go a week with­out work then I’ll get three weeks full of work,” he said. “I have sup­port from my mum if I don’t get work that week.”

Cru­cially for Alan and his mum, if he had been awarded a per­sonal in­de­pen­dence pay­ment he also would have been en­ti­tled to work­ing tax cred­its at up to £90 per week.

The money could have been used to ac­quire a care worker or per­sonal as­sis­tant who could sup­port Alan for a few hours each week.

Un­der the pro­pos­als which were scrapped last week an es­ti­mated 200,000 peo­ple would, like Al­lan, no longer be el­i­gi­ble for dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits be­cause the points awarded for daily chal­lenges such as walk­ing up steps would have been re­duced.

En­able , a dis­abil­ity char­ity that of­fers a range of so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, helped him se­cure em­ploy­ment and sup­ported him in his ben­e­fits ap­peal.

It says the im­pact of the cuts would have been dis­as­trous.

The char­ity’s Jan Sav­age said: “Cuts to per­sonal in­de­pen­dence pay­ment would have meant just that: cut­ting dis­abled peo­ple’s in­de­pen­dence, pro­hibit­ing in­de­pen­dent liv­ing and life.

“Per­sonal in­de­pen­dence pay­ments are not ex­tra money for dis­abled peo­ple.

“This is pay­ment to cover the ad­di­tional costs of hav­ing dis­abil­ity, to re­move some of the bar­ri­ers to par­tic­i­pa­tion in so­ci­ety and fa­cil­i­tate in­de­pen­dent liv­ing.”

The planned cut to dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits caused an up­roar amongst the pub­lic and politi­cians and saw the res­ig­na­tion of Work and Pen­sions Sec­re­tary Iain Dun­can Smith. He said the pro­posal was “in­de­fen­si­ble”.

Worry Alan Brown strug­gles to pre­pare his own meals

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