Number 10 denies Cameron misled MPs on DLA spending

The prime minister has been caught out for the second time giving MPs misleading information about cuts to disability benefits.

David Cameron had been asked last week about the impact on disabled people of the so-called “bedroom tax” – new regulations which will see housing benefit cut for families in social housing who are judged to have more bedrooms than they need.

But in a bid to defend the government’s overall record on disability benefits, Cameron claimed that government spending on disability living allowance (DLA) was rising, even though it is falling.

He told Labour leader Ed Miliband, who had asked the question: “The last thing he said before sitting down was that we are cutting the money going to disabled people. That is simply not the case.

“In 2009-10, the money spent on disability living allowance was £12.4 billion. By 2015 it will be £13.3 billion. There is no cut in the money going to the disabled.”

But Cameron failed to tell MPs that forecasted spending on DLA this year, 2012-13, is £13.6 billion. This means – according to the Department for Work and Pensions’ own figures – that spending on DLA will fall over the next two years.

A spokesman for Number 10 said the prime minister was pointing out that spending on DLA would rise over the course of this parliament, between 2010 and 2015.

He said: “That is often how we talk about spending, in terms of over a period, rather than year on year.”

Asked whether it was reasonable for the prime minister to use figures from three years ago, rather than the most up-to-date statistics, he said: “Yes, he was referring to the period over this parliament. That’s why he gave the date from 2009-10.”

Cameron had also claimed at last week’s prime minister’s questions that “people who need round-the-clock care” would be exempt from the bedroom tax, which come into force on 1 April.

But although disabled people who need a spare room for an overnight paid care worker will be exempt, those who rely on their partners for their support will not.

14 March 2013

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

p�Q ry� �ood the serious impact of these changes on some of the most vulnerable people in society, and would urge them to think again.”

Despite the decision to drop the appeal, Duncan Smith claimed there had been “no climb-downs at all” by his department.

He told Channel 4 News: “These are adjustments already because of the court case over the severely disabled children for local housing allowance [housing benefit] so this is nothing to do with it. This is a reality. We simply put the guidance out there to say this reality exists.”

It is still unclear what impact the appeal decision will have on a different court case, an attempt by 10 individuals and families to seek a judicial review of the impact of the bedroom tax on disabled people.

Anne McMurdie, who represents three of the claimants – a disabled man with a mental health condition, the father of a disabled child who shares caring duties with the child’s mother, and a disabled woman cared for by a parent in a significantly-adapted property – said the government’s announcement was “not entirely clear in many respects as to how it will work and who is covered”.

McMurdie, from Public Law Solicitors in Birmingham, said the government had until the end of Monday (18 March) to produce its written response to the judicial review claims.

She said: “At that point we hope to have a clear picture about what concessions or exemptions apply in these cases and to whom and whether the regulations themselves will be amended. Once we have this info we can decide how to go forward.”

14 March 2013

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

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