Daily burden of depending on family care
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