While the super-rich get a tax cut, disabled people are the hardest hit by Tory welfare cuts


 

Andrew Kaye is a co-author of the Hardest Hit coalition’s new report, “The Tipping Point” (pdf), out today

Another day, another story about welfare reform.

Last week, the BBC ran a story on the government’s flagship welfare policy, the Universal Credit. A report by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson revealed up to 450,000 disabled people and their families stood to lose out as a result of the reforms; today, Mark Hoban, the employment minister, warns jobseekers who repeatedly refuse to “play by the rules” could lose benefits for three years.

Anti-disability-benefit-cuts-protestersIs anyone listening? Amazingly, despite the almost dizzying release of case studies and statistics, welfare reform still appears to resonate as a news story.

The government thinks it is on to a good thing focusing on welfare. The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s recent announcement setting out plans for a further £10 billion cuts in the welfare budget, on top of the £18bn already being cut in this Parliament, shows the government’s intent.

But amidst all these announcements, on further cuts to come, on a zero tolerance approach to the ‘workshy’ and so on, it is increasingly unclear what the government means when it says we still have a ‘safety net’ to protect the most vulnerable in society.

The Hardest Hit coalition, which brings together more than 90 disabled people’s organisations and charities (including Sense, Mind, Mencap, Parkinson’s UK, the MS Society, The Stroke Association and RNIB), believes more needs to be done to raise awareness of the human and economic impacts of the cuts now underway.

After all, disabled people face a double penalty: extra costs and lower incomes. Our new research (pdf) shows nearly 9 in 10 (87 per cent) of disabled people say their everyday living costs are significantly higher because of their condition. We have recently surveyed more than 4,500 disabled people on changes to benefits. The verdict is in: disabled people and their families are struggling to make ends meet.

Yet in our view cuts to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and other vital benefits risk intensifying disability poverty. Nine in ten DLA claimants fear a loss of DLA income will lead to deterioration in their health. Yet the government plans on cutting the numbers receiving Disability Living Allowance by half a million people.

The Hardest Hit coalition’s new report, “The Tipping Point” (pdf), features the stories of disabled people facing tough choices on whether they can afford to heat their homes. Or whether they have enough money to buy pre-prepared food, which tends to be more expensive but many disabled people, such as those who cannot see, find it much easier to cook with.

As part of our research, disabled people told us they feel they are being targeted for cuts. Forty thousand people who paid into the system in good times but have now fallen on bad times lost £90 of Employment and Support Allowance in April 2012. Cuts averaging £52 a week for claimants receiving contributory ESA as a result of illness or an impairment will affect 400,000 disabled people by 2013/14. So where is the safety net?

Frustratingly, stories concerning disabled people facing tough choices tend to play second fiddle to DWP-press releases on the numbers of people being found ‘fit for work’. What’s different about the Hardest Hit coalition’s story? We want to use the coming week to explain, to focus Parliamentarians’ and the media’s minds on the real issues at the heart of the welfare debate.

Unless urgent changes are made to the assessment judging people’s fitness for work or indeed to Personal Independence Payment, disabled people’s slide into entrenched poverty and isolation will be the ultimate legacy of this government’s welfare reforms. Disabled people are at a tipping point but so too are politicians.

The government can press ahead with unfair cuts that our analysis suggests are a false economy or they can rule out targeting disabled people as part of the next spending review.

Take action:

We need MPs to recognise disabled people are already the hardest hit by the cuts and must be protected in future decisions on benefit reform and deficit reduction. Use our online tool to send an email to your MP expressing your concerns and asking them to attend the launch event for our new report, “The Tipping Point”.

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  • LB

    Which bit of “The government has debts of 7,000 bn” don’t you get?

    The debt has tipped. There isn’t the money to hand out.

    No doubt it will be the rich need to pay more. Companies need to pay more. Companies are scum for being set up overseas.

    1. Take all of Branson’s money today. It’s Monday. Who are you going to go after on Thursday, because on Thursday its gone, just on the overspend.

    2. It’s been salted away in secret off shore accounts. The pot of gold fairy tail. So where are the 7,000 billionaires in the UK?

    3. Naughty companies. Like BMW or Mercedes. They operate in Germany. How are you going to tax them?

    ….

    You’re deluded. The state debts have tipped, and the consequences as you point out dire.

    You need to distinquish between the government who can’t, and the government who won’t.

    They can’t pay. It’s irrelevant that they are nasty or not.

  • Eddy Boyband

    Yet when labour started all this by getting atos involved we never heard a peep from people like you or any one else involved with labour.

  • Patrick

    This was started by Labour in 2008. Its their fault.

  • elainesk

    “People like you” You talk about disabled people like they are the dirty under your shoes. That has to be the most disgusting thing to say to people fighting for survival.

  • frank

    I met someone on a package flight who was disabled and on benefits. She was wheeled through to the plane. When we got there it was a different story! Mountain biking, quad bikes, balloon ride – you name it! Over dinner she said she used to work, but now on benefits she just doesn’t see how she ever had the time!

    A true story and obviously not representative everyone on benefits – but I assume if this is possible there will be alot of people taking advantage! I’d happily pay more for genuinely disabled people to be helped into work or those chronically disabled to live a better lifestyle than now. Not too happy to pay for people with booze problems or a back twinge every other week to live it high on the hog!

    Not really prepared to pay anything for able bodied people not to work. As Gandhi said – giving money to the able bodied without expecting work in return demeans you and demeans them.

  • Mr. Sensible

    Heard that one before, LB. Doesn’t matter how many times you repeat; it still doesn’t add up.

  • treborc1

    DEMOS the Tory stink tank comes out with a welfare type credit card which can limit what those on benefits can buy, it’s been around for a while New Labour thought about vouchers, and guess who comes out backing it, yes Newer labour.

    Labour MP Debbie Abrahams, an aide to shadow health secretary Andy
    Burnham, said she backed the idea, in principle, of using pre-paid
    benefit cards to encourage people to make healthy eating choices by
    offering discounts on fruit and vegetables, for example.

  • Spoonydoc

    I am fed up with this argument being trotted out.
    Like many disabled people I’ve been campaigning, bugging my MP and trying to raise awareness of the issues facing us since 2008. It has simply taken this long to get the media to take an interest. Welfare reform and disability simply are not traditionally interesting topics for the press. Furthermore they straight out told us they didn’t want to get involved until they had “sob stories”. Well now they have them. Sadly if only they had got involved sooner we might have been able to avoid them. But that isn’t the way journalists work.
    Labour have their share of blame. The current government also have theirs as certain policies are theirs and theirs alone such as removing the Severe Disability Premium for adults ,halving disability payments for so called “moderately” disabled children (ie any disabled child who does not require care at night) and changing DLA to PIP with criteria which will see many disabled people cease to qualify despite needing support. If in doubt of this I challenge you to tell me that someone who is unable to wash below the waist should not qualify for help. Yet the new criteria redefines “bathing” as washing above the waist only. This sort of “redefiniton” (of walking, eating, dressing, etc) continues throughout the new benefit and is how the government intends to make its savings.

  • Eddy Boyband

    Unfortunately I have had no dirt under my shoes for the past 20 years due to a spinal injury which resulted in me having to use a wheelchair for the rest of my life. Now being that it was labour that got atos involved and millionaire Edward Miliband has not said sorry for this I can only assume that he would be doing the same, we just wouldn’t have sites like this talking about it.