The United Kingdom is embarking upon a major overhaul of its Social Security disability benefits. The government minister whose department administers these benefits has presented a report to Parliament giving a broad overview of what is envisioned. Here are a few quotes
- [Disability benefits are currently] confusing and complex.
- Individuals will have to qualify for the benefit for a period of six months and be expected to continue to qualify for a further six months before an award can be made.
- Key to the [disability] benefit will be an objective assessment of individual need, which we are developing in collaboration with a group of independent specialists in health, social care and disability, including disabled people.
- [W]e plan to periodically review all awards.
- Since [the current system of disability benefits] was introduced in 1992, there have been significant improvements in medical treatments and in aids and adaptations that assist disabled people. Attitudes to disability have also changed. The introduction of legislation, for example the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and Equality Act 2010, to protect the interests of disabled people and prevent discrimination has helped many disabled people lead more independent live.
- We are committed to further breaking down the barriers in society that prevent disabled people from exercising choice and control, and living active and independent lives. Just as society is changing and advancing, so too must our benefits system to reflect those changes.
- In just eight years, the numbers receiving [disability benefits] has increased by 30 per cent. The complexity and subjectivity of the benefit has led to a wider application than originally intended. To ensure that the new benefit is sustainable and affordable in the long term, we must reform [disability benefits] to make sure we focus on those that need the greatest help to live independently.
- Evidence suggests that [disability benefits] can also act as a barrier to work, when it should enable people to lead independent lives, including having or getting a job.
- The definitions currently used are subjective and reflect views of disability from the 1990s, not the modern day.
- A greater emphasis on objectivity and increased use of evidence will lead to more consistent outcomes and greater transparency for individuals, as the process will be easier to understand.
- We know that many disabled people use aids and adaptations to increase
their ability to participate in everyday life. ... We believe we should take greater account of the successful use of aids and adaptations ... This might mean, for example, considering an individual’s ability to get about in a wheelchair, rather than ignoring the wheelchair, as we do currently.