Headlines: June 29th, 1998

The Government says that the setting up of a new mechanism for talking direct to disabled people is a significant step to giving them a real voice on the formation of policies that affect them.

The Disability Benefits Forum will consider options for changes in the ways of accessing benefits for long-term sick and disabled people and their carers, and also how to ensure help is directed to those who most need it.

It is these two issues that the Government has long pledged to review, but which had earlier alarmed disabled groups, concerned not to follow the example of the controversies and inequities surrounding changes to lone parent benefits.

Social Services Secretary Harriet Harmon said: “The Forum will bring together representatives of disabled people and experts in disability issues, to conduct an open and detailed dialogue with the Government”.

Among the members of the forum are representatives of Citizens Advice Bureaux, the Royal National Institute for the Blind, The National Centre for Independent Living and MIND.