Disability Alliance legal move over welfare changes

Image caption Disability Living Allowance is paid to 3.2 million people

A group representing 270 disability charities is launching legal action to obtain a judicial review of the government's plans for welfare changes.

Ministers want to replace Disability Living Allowance with Personal Independence Payment, saving £2bn.

But Disability Alliance said ministers had not properly assessed the negative impact of the changes and that they did not comply with the Equality Act.

The government said the plans were fair and would protect those needing help.

'Overwhelming evidence'

Under the proposals, benefits such as mobility allowances for people in care homes would be stopped.

The care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at the lowest rate of just under £20 a week, which is paid to 650,000 people, would also go.

Disability Alliance said despite providing the government with overwhelming evidence of the negative impact it said the measures would have there has been no significant alteration to the Welfare Reform Bill.

Neil Coyle, from Disability Alliance, said: "We feel forced into taking action now. We have asked the DWP [Department for Work and Pensions] to answer our queries and concerns that we have been raising over the course of the past year.

"Disabled people are telling us what the potential impact of government cuts might be. The DWP has not answered.

"We feel we have no other option but to take action at this stage, which may end up with a judicial review of the government's DLA cuts."

More than half of the disabled people who use the DLA to support them in work would have to give up work if it was cut, Mr Coyle said.

"For many disabled people it helps to pay for an adapted vehicle, so if you can't afford to run a vehicle and that's what you're using the DLA for, there's a strong chance you won't be able to continue in work," he said.

"One in seven disabled people have told us that without DLA they won't be able to manage their health condition or impairment and they're more likely to have hospitalised periods, which cost far more to the taxpayer than paying, for example,£19.55 a week, which is the bit of the DLA expenditure the government is targeting for ending."

'Creating concern'

Ministers said they were listening to the concerns of the disability sector and the process was still ongoing.

Minister for Disabled People Maria Miller said: "We are still only part the way through this process.

"I think some of the concerns that have been expressed are second guessing what the outcome will be and probably creating a great deal of concern where perhaps there is no necessity to have that concern."

Disability Living Allowance is paid to 3.2 million people, including 1.8 million of working age.

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