We are already undertaking large-scale reform of the welfare system, for example the universal credit and our flagship Work programme. Our welfare reforms are designed to protect people in the most vulnerable situations, including disabled people. We remain steadfast in our support for the principles of DLA, as a non-means-tested cash benefit contributing to the extra costs incurred by disabled people.
However, DLA has not been fundamentally reformed since it was introduced in 1992. We now have a disability benefit which is confusing for individuals to understand, based on unclear criteria and often results in inconsistent awards, and since 1992, both the case load and the cost of DLA have grown to a level that is unsustainable. Changes to DLA are long overdue and must address questions of fairness and value, while supporting disabled people to lead independent lives. We must ensure DLA better reflects the needs of disabled people today, rather than in the 1990s, and that it enables support to be targeted to those with the greatest need.
This is why I want to bring disability benefits into the 21st century by replacing DLA with a new benefit-personal independence payment. This is an opportunity to improve the support for disabled people and enable them to lead full, active and independent lives. Personal independence payment will maintain the key principles of DLA, but it will be delivered in a fairer, more consistent and sustainable manner. It is only right that support should be targeted at those disabled people who face the greatest challenges to leading independent lives and this reform is required to enable that, along with a clearer assessment process.
The consultation document sets out our proposals and seeks responses from disabled people and disability organisations. The document covers:
The need for reform, including the rising case load and expenditure and what we believe is wrong with the current benefit;
Our proposals for reform including the new objective assessment, taking into account aids and adaptations, eligibility criteria, the treatment of children and over 65s, and signposting claimants to support to help them manage their condition; and
How we envisage the benefit being delivered, including the benefit's role as a passport to other support and integration with other support, such as adult social care.
We welcome views from across Great Britain on the DLA proposals, conceived within the framework of a 21st century welfare system that is efficient, effective and above all fair.
Copies of the consultation paper are available in the Vote Office, and will be available shortly at http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/menu/cmd2010.htm.
The consultation period will be from