A CHARITY campaigner fears thousands of disabled people could lose out on benefits payments due to a shake-up.
The Sunderland branch of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is opposing the changes to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and is being supported by Wearside MP Julie Elliott.
The Sunderland Central MP has written to Iain Duncan-Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to express her concern at the proposed reforms.
The Government has announced plans to replace what it calls the “outdated” DLA next year with a Personal Independence Payment (PIP), something the RNIB say “fails to recognise the challenges faced by disabled people”.
Volunteer campaigner Claire Parker, 31, of Hendon, has relied on DLA all her life having been born without an iris due to a condition called aniridia.
The money has enabled her to buy expensive equipment that allows her to read words on a computer screen, as well as various other pieces of equipment that have made her life easier.
She told the Echo that alterations to the criteria upon which claimants are assessed will lead to thousands of disabled people losing out on the payments altogether.
“DLA helps to pay for the additional cost of living with a disability,” said Claire. “It helps people to remain independent rather than having to rely on others.”
Ms Elliott shares Claire’s concerns. She said: “Thousands of people across the UK will have their right to lead a fully independent and personal life threatened with this change and the Government is wrong to disregard the wellbeing of vulnerable people.”
The Department for Work and Pensions says that PIP will offer greater support for disabled people. A spokeswoman said: “Too many people have been systematically failed by the current benefits system. That is why we are driving forward our welfare reforms to simplify the system and offer more targeted support for disabled people to live independent lives.”
Claire is calling on the Government to change its mind. She said: “I would emphasise how much people rely on DLA and how it helps them to live independently.
“You can’t predict everything you will need and just because one day you may be OK, doesn’t mean you won’t need it tomorrow.”