The National Autistic Society (NAS) has launched a campaign to challenge the government's proposed reforms to disability living allowance (DLA).
Following the government's announcement that it plans to cut £1 billion from the DLA budget over the next 3 years and replace it with a personal independence payment (PIP), the NAS has launched its Who Benefits? campaign to challenge the proposed reforms. The NAS is concerned at a number of changes put forward by the government, including removing the mobility component of DLA. Also, the change to PIP will mean applicants will have to undergo a face-to-face assessment. The NAS believes that a change in assessment procedure and the budget cuts will make it harder for people with autism to claim the benefit.
As a result, the NAS has published Who Benefits?, which is based on the stories of more than 250 people with autism, family members and carers. They claim that DLA has enabled them to live independently in their communities and gives them the extra impetus to get by.
The report also sets out a number of recommendations to make the new system easier for people with autism, which include:
- Not having to go through a face-to-face assessment if they have sufficient evidence about their autism
- Reflecting the challenges people with autism face on a daily basis in the assessment
- Ensuring the assessments are carried out by specially-trained autism professionals
- Not abolishing the mobility component of DLA for people living in residential care.
The NAS is also calling on people to email their MPs explaining the importance of DLA to people with autism, and have set up an easy way to ask your MP to support the Who Benefits? campaign.
Mark Lever, chief executive of the NAS, said: "Autism is a complex and hidden condition making it much harder to assess the impact of the disability on daily living. The proposed introduction of face-to-face assessments for all adult DLA claimants therefore increases the likelihood that the needs of those with autism will be misunderstood or overlooked. When coupled with government plans to cut the projected spend on DLA by £1 billion over the next three years, we have substantial concerns this could lead to the some of the most vulnerable losing out."
More information on the Who Benefits? campaign can be found on the NAS website.