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Benefit changes will hit disabled
A HOUSEBOUND ME sufferer is so concerned about planned cuts to the disability living allowance that he pushed his endurance to the limit by travelling to London to join a mass protest.
Steven Sumpter, aged 33, from Evesham, was one of hundreds of wheelchair users who chained themselves together to bring the Piccadilly Circus road junction to a standstill on Saturday lunchtime.
The protest was organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), with support from UK Uncut, against the Welfare Reform Bill, which is going through Parliament.
The charity Mencap says that planned cuts could see as many as 500,000 disabled people lose money.
Mr Sumpter, who has suffered with ME to varying degrees for more than a decade and who is largely housebound and unable to walk, feels the changes are ill-conceived and will strip away vital support from those in genuine need.
“It seems to me as if some of the red-top tabloids have created this idea that the majority of people receiving disability payments are scroungers or fakers and that this has allowed the Government to do this,” he said.
“It seems that disabled people are being seen as a good scapegoat.
“But I believe that some people who have genuine need of these payments are going to suffer as a result.”
Mr Sumpter receives about £160 per week in ESA (employment and support allowance) and £100 per week DLA (disability living allowance) as well as housing and council tax benefit.
He believes the reforms will backfire and end up costing more, with people left less independent and more reliant on expensive services.
“This will cost the Government far more than is saved, and will lead to people moving out of communities and back into care homes and institutions,” he said.
Despite the physical toll Saturday’s exertions took on Mr Sumpter – he has spent only a few minutes out of bed since the weekend – he said he felt he had to show support.
“This is the first time I’ve been involved in something like this but it really felt like the last chance to stand up and say something,” he said.
“My sincere wish is that it will have had an effect but I am not honestly holding out too much hope.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “Disability Living Allowance is an outdated benefit with the vast majority of people getting it for life without checks to see if their condition has changed. This has led to hundreds of millions of pounds in overpayments.
"We are replacing DLA with the personal independence payment and introducing a new face-to-face assessment and regular reviews, to make sure support is going to those who need it most.”