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|11 Feb 2016|
Ayrshire Stronger Together
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation suggests that the decision in George Osbourne's Spending Review that Housing Benefit for social housing should be capped at the same level as private sector could reduce supported tenancy housing benefit payments by up to £100 per week.
As there is no Local Housing Allowance for supported housing in the private rented sector, this seemingly minor, technical amendment could lead to virtually all supported housing for people under 35 to disappear, as many housing associations, councils and voluntary organisations rely on Local Housing Allowance to make up the additional costs.
Orr is lobbying to have this changed and says "We are told that it is not the intention of the Government to cause this problem for housing association running supported housing. If that is indeed the case it can resolve the problem immediately and easily. All it needs to do is agree that ‘specified housing’ is exempt from the rent cut and exempt from the local housing allowance limit. This decision must be made and it must be made quickly. If it does not happen, the consequences for tens of thousands of our most vulnerable fellow citizens are too awful to contemplate."
The Department for Work and Pensions said it was committed to supporting vulnerable people and details of how the policy will be implemented are still being worked on. Read More Here
The Ayrshire Stronger Together group has been working on personal Independence Payment for a while and has put together a training course to help make sure people with learning disabilities get the right help in applying for the new benefit.
From October 2015 the DWP will be asking everyone with Disability Living Allowance to apply for Personal Independence Payment. Many people with learning disabilities are worried that they may not get the help they need to apply.
Some people will be able to get professional help but many others will depend on family members and support staff to complete their forms with them. We would like to invite families and paid staff who support people with learning disabilities to a training course to help complete the application forms for the new Personal Independence Payment and to prepare for any further information that might be needed.
We have up to 20 places on each course but at this time they are only open to families from Ayrshire as the training course will be based in Kilmarnock. There is no cost to the course but they do need to book. There are more details on the leaflet.
Tens of thousands of people have been waiting over ten months to get the new benefit for the first time—without any payments in the meantime.
By December 2013 there had been 229,000 claims but only 43,800 decisions.
A fall in success rates
Under DLA 45% of claims were successful before appeal but under PIP only 37% of claims have been successful before appeal.
The Length Of Time Taken To Do Assessments. The new PIP assessment is more complicated than people realised and is taking twice as long to complete as thought.
Earlier this week LDAS published an report from a Whistleblower that said there was a developing of a new approach in the assessment of current applications for the Personal Independence Payment. This centred around instructions being given to ATOS Health Professionals about how they should carry out face to face interviews.
LDAS is an independent campaigning organisation that believes information should lead to action. Our intention in publishing this article was to inform people so that they could help change the approach of ATOS to this. It is always better to stop things before they become entrenched.
A number of people have been in contact to say they have felt scared as a result of the information and blamed LDAS for making it available. As a result of this, we have taken the original down.
We did speak to the author and felt that they were genuine in promoting this article. They are a well respected disability activist known to two leading disabled person's organisations.
A number of things about the context for the article are important to think about. The government's flagship problem of welfare reform is in a difficult place. With a general election only a year away, Universal Credit has stalled and PIP is drowning in a huge backlog of claims that cannot be processed because of the length of time assessments are taking. In this it strikes us that it is reasonable to suppose ATOS management to be looking at ways they can speed up assessments of the backlog. It is in this context that we think there was merit in this article.
We will be making no further comment on this matter.
Nicola Sturgeon told the SNP spring conference in Aberdeen on Saturday that the Scottish Government would set up new fund to help disabled people, to take the place of the Independent Living Fund, which she said was being closed by the UK Government.
The Scottish Independent Living Fund will support more than 3,000 disabled people, and a £5.5 million investment will mean it will be open to new claimants, as well as those who benefit from the existing scheme. The new fund will be managed by the third sector.
The UK Government's support scheme has been closed to new applicants since 2010 and is due to close altogether in June 2015.
The Scottish Government's version of the fund will come into effect in July that year, subject to the full allocation of funding being devolved.
We will be interested in clarification on how people can be referred to the new fund. The official press release says that referral will be by local authority social worker. Given that people may need to have a qualifying level of existing services before they can apply then this may not be a problem but there is a worry that giving the keys to yet another gate to local authorities may lead to consequences that no one expects.