Maria Miller: Reforms will aid disabled

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Following the Hardest Hit march in Edinburgh last weekend, I wanted to reassure disabled people what our reforms actually mean to them.

This government is absolutely committed to supporting disabled people and in Edinburgh alone we supported disabled people with £93.7 million on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) last year.

However, the current benefit system is not always reaching those who need it most. We have identified millions of pounds in overpayments of DLA, because we do not routinely reassess whether an individual’s condition changes.

This is why we are set to introduce the new Personal Independence Payment, with a face-to-face assessment and regular reviews to make sure people are getting the right support.

As well as reforming DLA the government is also putting in place better support to help those moving into work. It is clear that the Work Capability Assessment that we inherited from the previous government didn’t work as it should. That is why we commissioned Professor Harrington to suggest improvements and we have accepted his recommendations.

But our reforms are more than just changes to benefits. It can’t be right that a lot of disabled people still feel their choices are a life on benefits or a job that doesn’t make use of their skills.

That is why I asked Liz Sayce, of the disability charity RADAR, to carry out an independent review of employment services.

She suggests that by spending the budget for specialist disability employment programmes differently, there is the potential to support an extra 35,000 disabled people into work.

I know that change is worrying. My officials and I have met with all the major disability organisations involved in the Hardest Hit march and will continue to work with disabled people and listen to their concerns.

• Maria Miller is Minister for Disabled People