Continuing our series of blogs on what’s changed over the past five years in relation to deaf children, this blog looks at welfare policy.
From DLA to PIP
One big change to affect deaf young people is the replacement of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for those over 16. Both DLA and PIP are benefits to support disabled people – whether they’re in work or not – with additional day to day costs associated with their disability. Deaf young people might use DLA to pay for, for example, specialist equipment to help them communicate or for the costs of travelling to audiology appointments.
The Government were clear from the outset that they wanted to reduce what the DLA budget would have been by 20% and to ‘focus resources’ on those who ‘most need it’. They also wanted to introduce a more rigorous assessment process.
When NDCS looked at the ‘thresholds’ for the new PIP benefit, it became apparent that there was a risk that many deaf young people who qualified for DLA may not qualify for PIP. This is because only those who have difficulties with communication all the time would get enough ‘points’ to qualify for the standard. This suggested to NDCS that only those who communicated entirely in sign language or who had additional needs would qualify.
Because of delays to the roll out of PIP, the full impact of these changes is not yet apparent. But we remain concerned that once it is fully rolled out, many deaf young people will lose out.
Separately, there remain a number of issues with the claim process is designed. Frustratingly, the claim processed was based on an assumption that all disabled people can use the telephone. NDCS has found it challenging to get the Government to respond to the fact that many deaf young people may, because of their deafness, not actually use the phone. We do not believe that the benefit should have been introduced before checking that the claim process was fully accessible to everyone.
Some changes have since been made and claim forms can now be requested by post (though apparently not by email). However, this lengthens the process and the Government have said they won’t backdate the claim to when the form was first requested. NDCS continues to feel that this is discriminatory.
It should be noted that we do not know that the above changes would not have happened under a different Government and we are not aware of any commitments to reverse these changes.
More information on PIP can be found on NDCS’s website.
Our health warning from previous blogs applies here also – this blog is a simplified summary and does not attempt to cover everything or to touch on wider changes to welfare that may impact on deaf children. Again though, we hope it provides some food for thought though. Let us know what you think about our summary evaluation by leaving a comment below.