The government began to draw up plans to abolish Attendance Allowance for new claimants.
Attendance allowance is a benefit payable to people over the age of 65 who have care needs, including difficulties with everyday tasks such as dressing and washing. This money can make all the difference between living and existing, paying for cleaners or someone to help with the shopping, extra heating, or running a car.
The government claimed that local authorities would step in to fill the gap in provision created by scrapping Attendance Allowance but offered no guarantees that local authorities would have sufficient funds to match the current rates.
When I saw the proposal I was incensed… I decided I had to do something.
130,000 petition signatures later, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Today I can confirm that the localisation of Attendance Allowance is no longer being considered…”
It looks as though Attendance Allowance is safe for now!
I work for Age UK, I’ve been a housing support worker for 14 years and I see on a day to day basis the help that Attendance Allowance gives to people.
When I saw the proposal I was incensed, this government have been cutting benefits to all groups, but to think they were going to take them from the elderly, who aren’t always able to have their voice heard and defend themselves, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I decided I had to do something. I’ve never been one for public speaking or being in the spotlight, and of course I had to do it in my own name and not in the name of Age UK.
I started the petition, I emailed the link for hours on end to any organisation I thought might support it, the big breakthrough came when Luke from 38 Degrees phoned me and asked if they could publicise the petition, of course I jumped at the chance, this helped it get to the final total of more than 130,000 people, many organisations took park in the consultation and the government backed down. I was told they would have looked at my petition as a gauge of the strength of public opinion, and my CEO said that if the consultation had failed at that stage we would have delivered the petition with the help of our local labour MP, so we even had a back-up!
This is fantastic news, and thank you so much to everyone that signed the petition and emailed the minister to help put pressure on him.
By Denise Fellows