Thursday, 20 January 2011

Lack of respite for desperate parents isn't going to get better if the government cuts Disabled Living Allowance by 20%


This issue isn't just one for carers. After all anyone could have a disabled child, a disabled parent, a disabled partner or even become disabled themselves. Having a disabled person in your household has a huge financial impact and the financial help that Disabled Living Allowance offers often isn't enough - at highest rates it is not equivalent to mimimum wage - to provide adequate care, but without it even more carers will be facing desperate circumstances like those seen in the press recently.

Disability Living Allowance is a non-means tested benefit, paid directly to disabled people and their carers to help with the costs of supporting that person in the most basic ways.

It could pay for staff carers to offer extra respite for a few hours a day, a car so people can leave the house, special equipment, accessible taxis, assistants at activities so children can go out and do normal things like swimming or attended clubs, nappies for older children, special shoes, special accessible toys... the list is endless because it enables the people who know what they need to use it directly.

The government want to reform DLA, rebrand it and reduce its costs by 20%. The system is complicated but extremely rigorous and has a fraud rate of less than 1% (less than other kinds of benefit). So the 20% cuts can only come from taking away or lowering benefit for people who are currently judged to need and rely on it. The Conservative Party has recently suggested that the number of DLA claimants has increased by three times as much. This is not true for recent cases! In fact the number of claimants has stayed steady for the last 13 years. Read all about the truth here at the BBC.

DLA is important financially not just for the sum it offers but also the access it gives claimants to other benefits such as Housing Benefit, Carers Allowance or Income Support.

It's difficult to express here as words on a screen just how important this benefit is and how much it means to the people who receive it. Disabled people all over the country want you to know how much this means and how much they need us to help their fight, watch this fantastic video on YouTube or read about the experience at the people facing One Month Before Heartbreak We are asking you please to put all that effort you so fantastically made in our campaign yesterday toward bringing these future cuts to light and stopping them.

They are still consulting now! We have until 14th February to convince the Public Consultation on Disabled Living Allowance Reform NOT to make these cuts.

None of us can reverse the disabilities these people have. But we CAN fight this! There is so much you can do to help.

Start by signing this petition to recall the consultation. It takes 30 seconds and you can donate to the campaign there too. It asks you to register a few details (just your name and email) but these will not be used by any third party.

Get hold of Maria Miller MP, Minister for Disabled People by email if you're not sure what to write The Broken of Britain have a fantastic example letter here or send your own thoughts on this serious issue:
Or write to her here:  
Maria Miller MP
DLA Reform Team,
1st Floor, Caxton House,
Tothill Street,

Get hold of David Cameron here by email and ask him what he will be doing to stop this: Or:
For a guaranteed response write a letter to either his consitituency address:
10 Bridge Street
Witney Oxon 
OX28 1HY
Or at Downing Street:
10 Downing Street,

Get hold of Your MP and let them know that these cuts are not acceptable! This DirectGov link will explain how to find your local MP and contact them.

Next spread the word! If you use twitter please let your followers know about what is happening, the petition and what they can do. We're using the hashtag #care4carers - there are several twitter feeds worth following including @BrokenOfBritain and @DisabilityNow Try tweeting British celebrities, you never know who might be interested of affected.

You could also use facebook, start and write on your own blog, tell your friends at home, make posters for your town... anything! So many people have no idea this is even happening and time is running out.

Write to any journalists you know and your local newspaper. Suggest they find out what impact the cuts will have in their area, and how badly respite is needed already.

Please help. Disabled Living Allowance means so much to so many people, we made a difference yesterday. Let's make a difference to thousands of other people struggling and facing even more pressure.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Lack of respite is forcing parents of disabled children to consider putting them into care.

Riven is a mother whose child is severely disabled after brain damage during birth. Her daughter needs round the clock care which has been provided by her parents for years.

During the run up to the general election David Cameron went to Riven's house to talk to her about improving care for disabled children accompanied by the Telegraph - where he talked about improvements he wanted to make for parents of disabled children.

However, despite their child's problems being some of the most difficult it is possible to have, they are still only entitled to SIX hours respite care a week, and have just had requests for extra care and a link family turned down.

They are exhausted and considering putting her into social services care as they are struggling to cope.

Parents should not be forced into this position just to get some desperately needed help!

Please help support Riven and other families who are suffering from the lack of respite available. Any family can have a disabled child and any parent could find themselves in this position.
Statement from Riven
Thurs 20th Jan

"Yesterday, as has been reported, I called my social worker to tell her I wanted to start looking for a full-time residential care home for my six-year-old daughter, Celyn, who has severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy and epilepsy. I'd just received a letter from social services saying they was no chance of any more than the six hours respite care we receive currently.

I never imagined I would get to this point and it's the last thing we want for her but we just can't see any other option. Caring for my daughter is relentless. She needs someone 24 hours a day. She must be tube-fed, is doubly incontinent, cannot walk, talk, sit up, or use her arms. She has to be lifted using a hoist from chair to wheelchair, between bed and bath. She doesn't grow up. I sleep in a bed next to Celyn every night, beside a monitor that checks her breathing. I've barely had an unbroken night since she was born and I am exhausted. My sleeplessness leads to problems with everything else. I'm too tired to cook and give my three other children the attention I need to. Caring takes over your whole life.

And it's not just my family. Carers across the country are struggling the same way. It's not a new thing. It's been going on for years and no one government is to blame. But I had hoped that after David Cameron came to visit me earlier this year following our exchange on Mumsnet, he would have done more to protect families like ours. The money the government has allocated for short breaks and respite care - eight hundred million over four years - is not enough and worse still it's not going to be ring-fenced. So there's nothing to stop cash-strapped local authorities from using the money elsewhere.

I have no wish to put my daughter into a home. We want to look after her, all I am asking for is a little more support. Without this we simply cannot cope and nor can families up and down the country just like ours. We are crumbling."

After Riven's press release we are no longer asking people to contact the PM about her case. However please consider emailing David Cameron to ask him what he is going to do to help other carers in this awful situation all over the UK, and the cuts to Disabled Living Allowance (blogger's note: more details to come): Or:

For a guaranteed response write a letter to either his consitituency address:
10 Bridge Street
Witney Oxon 
OX28 1HY
Or at Downing Street:
10 Downing Street,

If you have the time please contact your local MP, this DirectGov link will tell you how to find and contact your local MP. It doesn't take very long and could make a huge difference to the lives of people struggling right now.

If you want to tweet about this issue please use the #care4carers and which will direct people here at You can really help raise awareness about what is a shockingly poor amount of care available in some parts of Britain.