Campaign victory on Disabled Students Allowance

12 March 2015

A member of the NDCS Young People’s Advisory Board, Zanna, has forced the Government to do a U-turn over proposed changes to Disabled Students Allowance (DSA).

The Government yesterday announced that it would postpone its plans to cut back on support for disabled students, after Zanna initiated legal action.

The legal action had recently been given permission to proceed to a ‘Judicial Review’. A court would have considered whether the Government had acted unlawfully in failing to consult directly with disabled students about these changes. A Judge had already said that she was “not impressed” with the Government’s arguments that it didn’t have to consult.  

The Government has also said that it wants to allow more time for consultation, accepting that “there are concerns that some [Higher Education] institutions are not yet in a position to deliver a fully accessible service to students, and that this may result in a negative impact for some students.”

Disabled students who need support at university can apply to DSA to help cover the costs of things like note-takers or radio aids. For many deaf students, this kind of support is vital. Last year though, the Government announced that it plans to cut back DSA in some areas. Instead, universities would be expected to cover the costs.

NDCS has opposed these changes from the start because it’s not clear that universities can or will pick up the costs. We feel it was wrong for the Government to push ahead with these changes without putting in place proper safeguards. The changes threatened to leave disabled students at risk of having to go without the support they need, without giving them any real new legal rights to do anything about this. 

Zanna’s legal action was supported by Irwin Mitchell solicitors and barristers Ian Wise QC and Steve Broach from Monckton Chambers

NDCS is really proud of Zanna for standing up for deaf and disabled young people in this way. She has sent a strong signal to the Government that no changes that affect disabled people should be made without their involvement. We’re extremely disappointed that it was necessary for Zanna to take legal action to force the Government to listen.

NDCS looks forward to working with the Government to make sure these changes are introduced in a way which ensures disabled students get the support they need, with proper safeguards in place. We’ll also be working hard to make sure that whichever Government is elected in May promises to involve disabled students directly on issues like this.

More information

NDCS’s witness statement in support of the legal action

NDCS response to government on proposed DSA changes