Disability charities call for more time to consider implications of Government reforms

Disabled people need an extra six weeks to give crucial feedback on proposed Government reforms, more than 100 organisations have said.

They have told minister for disabled people Justin Tomlinson that the time given for consultation on the Health and Disability Green Paper is too short for the millions who will be affected by it.

In a letter to the minister, the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) say after two years of waiting, the Green Paper was published just a few days before Parliament’s summer recess, yet with the standard 12-week consultation.

This does not make the “reasonable adjustments” that disabled people need and puts “people in a position where they are either not able to respond in time, not going to be able to respond properly, or do not have time to engage with the people they work with in developing their responses”, the organisations say.

Ellen Clifford (pictured), on behalf of the DPAC, said it is imperative that people have a say on the proposals.

“Too often over previous years, changes have been made to the social security system that have caused widespread detriment,” she said.

“Measures included in the paper such as merging Personal Independence Payment with Universal Credit threaten an end to non-means-tested disability benefits which would severely reduce the ability of many disabled people to look for and stay in employment.

“They cannot be taken lightly and legally ministers must take steps to ensure they fully understand the impacts of policies before they introduce them.”

Anastasia Berry, policy manager at the MS Society and policy co-chair of the DBC, said: “It is only fair that after the long wait for the Health and Disability Green Paper to be published, disabled people, including those with MS, are given the time they deserve to feedback.

“With five chapters, and over 40 questions which range from thoughts on advocacy support to changing the whole system, this is a mammoth consultation. The standard 12 weeks simply doesn’t allow for the ‘reasonable adjustments’ many disabled people need to respond.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We are putting disabled people at the heart of Government policy making and service delivery.

“That’s why we’re consulting on how the welfare system can better meet the needs of people with disability and health conditions – now and in the future, in their everyday lives.

“Their voices, insights and experiences are central to our approach and all will be given the opportunity to respond properly in time and in alternative formats to meet their needs.”

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