The government's new disability benefit is based on an outdated medical model that cannot assess true needs or costs
Stef Benstead, The Guardian, UK - June 12, 2013
I've been reading incomplete bits and pieces about how the Cameron coalition government in the United Kingdom is, apparently, completely redesigning its system of financial support benefits for people with disabilities. It seems fairly clear that whatever logical explanations and sensible improvements these changes might include, the 'bottom line" will result in significant cuts to individual benefits. I also read hints that some people might be dropped entirely, determined by "reformed" rules to not be disabled at all.
I really need to read more about this. Even though the new plan is being widely panned as a back-door method of simply cutting benefits, I'm more intrigued by hints that both the pre-reform and post- reform system might be a lot simpler and perhaps more empowering than the complex patchwork of benefits and programs we have here in the U.S. Of course, Great Britain has universal health care for everyone, which is a major difference with the U.S., where health care is still a major complicating factor for disability benefits and people with disabilities' aspirations. The other difference seems to be that UK assistance for people with disabilities relies more in a single, unified, and flexible financial benefit for each person … in other words, a monthly check … intended to cover all of their "special" needs, including perhaps adaptive equipment and personal care. If that's correct, it sounds like a much better system, and one we maybe should emulate here.
On the other hand, it also makes it easier to reduce support than it is in the U.S. Here, a cut in, say, Food Stamps or housing subsidy hurts, but may be compensated for by other benefits and supports that have their own sources, that have to be reduced individually, with separate legislation. Drawing all your eggs from one basket is simpler and more flexible, but if the basket suddenly has fewer eggs, there's no where else to go to make up the difference.
I wonder if American disability activists are watching what's going on with their compatriots in Britain?
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