Another government minister talks, another government minister lies. This time its the turn of Esther McVey with another government attack on the disabled. Iain Duncan Smith has already told lies on the level of DLA fraud – its less than 1%, which is made up for by many legitimate claimants not submitting a claim. McVey though says DLA is “given away” with 50% of claims awarded on the claim form alone. I think she needs to have a wander down to the DWP who would tell her only 16% of claims are decided on the form alone. The 16% would account for those so severely disabled they need caseworkers to complete forms on their behalf. Its a bare-faced lie to suggest half of claimants are being awarded DLA on the back of the claim only.
In my experience with Matthew, before we were awarded DLA on his behalf first of all we had to go through his GP. This happened in September of 2008. The GP listened to our concerns and on the strength of the behavioural traits exhibited by Matthew, he was referred to Community Health. After a few months of waiting, we saw Community Health (early 2009) who assessed Matthew with Jane and by himself over three appointments. The consultant there then thought she’d seen enough to recommend he be assessed at the Raeden Centre in Aberdeen, a special needs nursery where he would see speech therapists, psychologists and consultants. At the end of a 5-day assessment we had a multi agency meeting with all involved that decided Matthew would be passed onto one of the clinical psychologists at the children’s hospital in Aberdeen.
What followed was a string of appointments where Matthew was assessed again against various criteria. Matthew was seen with Jane, alone, at play. It was a long process and finally when he turned four, the psychologist could test Matthew using ASD diagnostic tools. With those and another session, she was able to diagnose Matthew with an ASD. That was in January 2010, 16 months after we first went to our GP.
Our Health Visitor advised us to claim for DLA. We reviewed the National Autistic Society’s website for guidance on claiming for DLA (
http://www.autism.org.uk/living-with-autism/benefits-and-community-care/disability-living-allowance.aspx) which was invaluable. What then followed was a gruelling process of completing the claim. We recorded as much detail as we could, which ended with the claim running to 10,000 words. In addition, the DWP needed a report from the school (who asked “Why do you need the money?” – cheeky buggers) and of course a full report form the clinical psychologist. Thankfully, she was more than helpful and ready to support us with the claim.
Finally in April 2010, we received an award letter giving Matthew higher rate care (he’s a nightmare at night) – we would have to claim again when he was five for mobility for which he was awarded lower mobility. So, in the course of 16 months we saw a GP, 2 consultants, speech therapist, clinical psychologist, completed a 10,000 word claim, had to submit reports from the psychologist and school before we were awarded a penny. If Esther McVey thinks its just handed out, its her that’s living in cloud cuckoo land.