Newham parents tell minister of benefit concerns

PARENTS of disabled children from across Newham came together to lobby a Government minister over changes to benefits.

More than 30 concerned carers met MP Maria Miller, the Conservative minister for disabled people, at St Mark’s Community Centre in Beckton.

The Coalition Government is currently consulting over plans to replace Disability Living Allowance with a new Personal Independence Payment.

The meeting at the Tollgate Road centre was organised by Newham-based support group One Voice 4 Parents, and supported by Save the Children UK, to ensure those from the borough were able to have their say.

There were also workshops and role play exercises aimed at highlighting the problems faced and identifying potential solutions.

During a 20-minute question and answer session with the minister, parents and carers raised concerned about the lack a lack of publicity and the complexity of the application process.

One Voice 4 Parents spokeswoman Denise Hazel said: “We hope the Government’s plans for a ‘Big Society’ will include opportunities for parents and carers to help design and implement any new benefit.”

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Mrs Miller promised to “cut red tape” without cutting the cash families are entitled to, and said feedback from local groups was important to the ongoing consultaiton.

“We are talking about trying to get the cost under control, but keeping spending at the same level as it was last year,” she said.

She added: “The forms are so complex that we now have a website on how to fill them in.

“That cannot be right, and it’s got to be simpler.

“Our main objective is to make the system fairer and more straightforward.”

The consultation over DLA reform runs until February 14. Responses and comments can be submitted via the Department for Work and Pensions website at