After scores of emails demanding that the personal independence payments be protected from the Chancellor’s cuts – including some individuals who had clearly been repeatedly emailing throughout the night, I awoke to the news of Ian Duncan-Smith’s resignation. Notwithstanding my admiration for all that he has achieved, I stand by the original proposal and, frankly, I can’t see what all the fuss was about.
The budget for disabled payments is enormous at £50 billion per year (for comparison, our entire defence budget is £34 billion). As I see it, the problem is that some people need more than they currently are getting in order to cope with everyday life. Whilst others are taking the rest of us for a ride. We need to concentrate resources on those who really need them.
One difficulty is that a qualifying criterion for the payments is reliance on an ‘aid’ or ‘appliance’ (which might be something as simple as a bed or a chair – even one supplied by the NHS), which mightn’t actually add anything to one’s weekly cost of living. Over the last 18 months claims for payments based solely on reliance on aids and appliances have tripled. Of the cases reviewed, 96% have indicated that there are no – or very little – additional living costs arising.
I am persuaded that there remains plenty of scope for reform.