To read on Mencap website:
Note: In the UK, the term of ‘Learning disability’ is used instead of ‘Intellectual disability’.
Let’s talk about benefits
by Ciara Lawrence
I want to talk about benefits, as part of the Hear my voice campaign. It’s something many people don’t like talking about, undertandably, but I think we should talk about it more so that we can dispel some of the myths.
We’d like to hear what you think too – you can either comment below or you can join the hundreds of others who have shared their story on the Hear my voice website. Talking about benefits is the first step in campaigning to protect them for people with a learning disability, and making them easier to access.
I talked to some of my colleagues with a learning disability at Mencap and asked them some questions about the issue of benefits and what they think of them.
Thank you to Harry, Ismail, Leroy, Lorainne and Youssef for taking part.
1. What benefits do you get?
Most people said they get Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and a couple of people said they also got working tax credits.
Youssef gets Income Support, Severe Disability Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Housing Benefit and tax credits.
2. Is the information about your benefits easy or hard to understand?
Ismail – the Letters I get about my Disability Living Allowance (DLA) can be long and confusing. The writing is small and scary. If the Department for Work and Pensions tries, the letters could be made more accessible and friendly.
Lorainne – my support workers help me to understand the letters and information. It took a long time to apply to get them because they are really inaccessible.
Harry – the letters I get are hard to understand and are full of jargon words. I have had to ask my family to support me to read them so I can understand them.
Ciara – when I have had to fill in the DLA assessment form, it made me feel negative like I cannot do anything.
Youssef – at first I found letters from Department for Work and Pensions hard to understand, but now that I’m familiar with them, I find them easier to understand.
3. What do you use your benefits for?
Leroy – I use my Disability Living Allowance to help pay for extra living costs, like higher bills.
Ismail – I use my Disability Living Allowance to help me pay towards extra costs because of my health condition, such as energy bills. My wife gets carers allowance. She supports me by doing a lot of things at home that I find hard to do.
Lorainne – I use my benefits to help me pay for living costs such as helping me to pay my extra bills for my flat.
Harry – my Disability Living Allowance (DLA) helps me to live independently
4. Why is getting benefits important?
Leroy – because I get benefits, I have been able to get Access to Work money so I can have a support worker who helps me with my job.
Ismail – having benefits gives me independence to do new things. As I get benefits I have been able to get Access To Work money to get a support worker to help me with the things I need to do in my job. Without benefits I wouldn’t be able to have the right support around me. I would struggle with some tasks in my job. Outside of work, I would find it harder to get out and about.
People with a learning disability like me are worried about having their benefits taken away. If someone’s assessment is done without the right support, wrong decisions can be made about someone with a learning disability and whether they can get their benefits or not. The Government should not make any cuts to disability benefits.
Lorainne – It is important that I get my benefits. It’s a pot of extra money that I can use to help me in my life. If I didn’t get my benefits money, I would not be able to do the things that I enjoy doing. I would struggle to pay my extra living costs and that would make me very unhappy. I would not be able to travel to work. My support worker would have to give me extra support.
Youssef – I find my benefits that I get are central to how I live because of my many disabilities I would not be able to live. I also work part time for Mencap as a part time Campaigns Assistant. Having my job gets me out of my home.
From the blog it is clear that information about Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is not clear for people with a learning disability. It is inaccessible.
DLA benefit is really important to people with a learning disability because of having extra costs of living.
Having Disability Living Allowance (DLA) helps to give people with a learning disability independence and the right support to learn new skills and achieve new things.
Lots of people with a learning disability are worried about what would happen if they lost their benefits. The next Government should make sure people with a learning disability get the benefits they need.
Join our Hear my voice campaign and tell your future MP what you think about benefits www.hear-my-voice.org.uk.