Should benefits for older disabled people be means-tested?
11th September 2015
A Professor of Economics at the University of Essex has investigated whether means-tested benefits would be beneficial for older disabled people. This is following concerns that money is currently going to those who don’t need it as much as others, which has, in turn, prompted calls to the government to introduce this method.
Many are surprised that the government is not considering means-testing benefits, due to rising costs and the large budget deficit, although Professor Stephen Pudney’s research shows that this would not actually help those living in poverty as much as assumed. However, he does highlight the need for more benefits for older disabled people, as their cost of living is significantly higher than the funds they receive from both the government and local authorities.
Benefits need to be increased in order for disabled people to live comfortably
Older people with disabilities can claim two main benefits: Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance. These are intended to help with the extra living costs that older people face, although numerous pensioners are still struggling to afford both everyday life and the funding of necessary purchases such as curved stairlifts or mobility scooters. Unlike social care benefits, neither are means-tested, but rates do differ.
According to the article published by the Conversation, evidence suggests that disability benefits are actually well targeted, but there are still people who are not receiving the money they need. Figures suggest that fewer than half of those with the highest levels of disability are receiving either AA or DLA, meaning that there is a significant amount of disabled people who are not being reached.
The research by the professor concludes that while means-tested benefits may not be the answer, there is still plenty to do before the disabled people who are deep in poverty are able to afford to live comfortably.
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