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Social Security Experience Panels: disability benefit names

Social Security Experience Panels members' views on renaming disability benefits when they are transferred from the UK Department for Work and Pensions to Social Security Scotland.

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Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for Children

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for Children is currently delivered by the DWP. This benefit supports young people and their families to access support and care for their disability or health condition.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for Children – Likes

We asked respondents what they liked about the name Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for Children. 234 of the 278 respondents answered this open text question. For those who provided a positive comment, a number of themes were identified.

Clear and self-explanatory

The majority of respondents said they liked that the name DLA for Children is self-explanatory and simple. It was described by some as 'clear and easily understood' and 'accurate and accessible.' Many respondents said that they liked that it is descriptive, stating what and who the benefit is for. Some respondents also liked the word 'children' as it shows that the benefit is intended to support the child.

"Tells you who it's for and what it does."

"It does what it says on the tin."

Familiar

Some respondents liked that the name DLA for Children is familiar and well known. A few respondents said that the name is easy to remember.

"There's a familiarity with it, people already know what it is and what to expect."

"I think you should stick with what is widely known in the naming of any benefit. Changing this would be an unnecessary expense and might cause confusion in the short-term."

"It's in line with the name used in England too so parents accessing support and information or on online forums will have a common descriptor rather than be confused by different titles for the same benefit."

Positive word – 'living'

Some respondents said that they liked the word 'living'. They suggested that it makes it clear that the benefit is for living essentials and acknowledges that having a disability or health condition results in extra living costs for individuals and families.

"'Disability Living' makes it clear what the purpose of the benefit is. It's for disabled people to help with the added cost of living due to their disability. Simple and explanatory. It's direct to the point for helping children with disabilities, mental and physical."

"It specifies it's for children and "Living" communicates that it is a payment to "help disabled children live."

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for Children – Dislikes

We asked respondents what they disliked about the name Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for Children. 211 of the 278 respondents answered this open text question. For those who provided a negative comment, a number of themes were identified.

Negative word – 'disability'

The vast majority of respondents disliked that the name DLA for Children included the word 'disability'. Respondents felt that the term is not inclusive because it focuses on the disability rather than the individual. They described it as being potentially discriminatory and stigmatising, particularly for those who do not like or identify with the label 'disability.'

"It focuses on disability rather as ability."

"As stated far too often the word disabled defines people and their life chances, we need to stop defining people by what separates us and start looking at what makes us the same."

"Emphasising "Disability" rather than e.g. "support needs" or "Independence payment" can be stigmatising - many people do not wish to be seen as disabled, preferring to concentrate on coping / managing with their condition."

Respondents felt that it is particularly problematic to label and categorise children using the word 'disability' and some said that the name was not 'child friendly'.

"It immediately labels a child, with negative connotations."

"I think the name gives an indication that the children who receive this benefit are "different" from other children."

"I feel that the use of the word disability is demeaning. Children with additional needs should not be categorised."

Whilst respondents noted that not all individuals would describe themselves as disabled, they also highlighted that the word 'disability' itself is misleading because it does not appear to encompass all disabilities and health conditions. Some respondents said this could potentially create barriers to claiming and uptake.

"The word disability doesn't represent all applications of the allowance. Some recipients have chronic health conditions, not commonly referred to as disability."

"Pinpointing Disability in the title can be stigmatising and labels a group of people, and also can leave people with mental health disorders being disenfranchised where the same information could be inferred by calling it Care and Mobility Allowance /Assistance."

"Some people assume if you have a disability then they should be able to see it. Not all disabilities are visible."

Negative word – 'allowance'

Many respondents disliked that the name DLA for Children included the word 'allowance'. This term was also seen to hold negative connotations. Respondents felt that it implies some form of 'hand out', 'pocket money' or 'gifted sum of money' rather than a fundamental right or entitlement. They described it as being patronising and contributing to stigma, reinforcing a notion of 'dependency'. Respondents felt that the word 'allowance' does not acknowledge that DLA for Children is a basic right to ensure that a child with a disability receives the extra income required in order to have a decent standard of living.

"Allowance kind of implies that people with disabilities are being allowed to have a life rather than an equal right to the same quality of life as those who do not have disabilities or conditions."

"The word allowance sounds like you're permitting or allowing living and independence rather than it being a right."

"'Allowance' has a certain dependency ring to it, as though the recipient should be grateful in a cap in hand manner. To allow indicates, to me at least, there's a permission needed just to exist."

"'Allowance' is probably not the best word to use. It's an entitlement. A right. And Allowance gives the impression that it's not an entitlement. If we want to dramatically reduce the stigma surrounding benefits we need to change how they are perceived... they are there to assist people and boost the incomes of people that need it and it is a supportive mechanism that gives the people of this country a better life. If you are disabled you have a right to extra support in whichever form suits your needs best and you are entitled to that support, not just allowed it because the government is choosing to be kind."

Out of date

Perhaps related to the issues with the words 'disability' and 'allowance' discussed above, some respondents said that the name DLA for Children seems 'old-fashioned', 'out of date' and 'punitive'. A few respondents said that any benefits names used by the DWP held negative associations for them.

"It is very old fashioned and could do with a change something that represents all children in the 21st century, something that includes all of disabilities including the hidden ones."

"It feels old, words that would be used 50 years ago."

Additional themes

A small number of respondents said the name DLA for Children is too long, and that it is unclear what the purpose of the benefit is. Some respondents also said that it is not clear as to which age group the benefit applies to because it only refers to 'children'. This was seen to be excluding to teenagers and other young people.

"It sounds as though it is just for children but not young people. Many people may think that if you are between 12 and 16 you are not entitled to this benefit."

"Children is not appropriate, when do they become young people?"

Contact

Email: socialsecurityexperience@gov.scot

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