Cutting support for deaf workers and increasing the Bedroom Tax: welcome back, Iain Duncan Smith

IFS analysis sets out what welfare users can expect now the Tories are back in - and it's not good

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We all know by now that we can expect some pretty deep cuts with the Conservatives back in power. Last month, the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) predicted that the pace of cuts in a second Tory government would be faster than in the last government; sadly we will now be able to see if that prediction becomes a reality.

Welfare cuts have been a major concern for many people, seeming to characterise a party-wide disregard for the vulnerable. But until last Friday, even senior Tories were not expecting to have free reign with cuts, as it was assumed that they could only return to power with the tempering influence of the Lib Dems (Nick Clegg said he would not enter a coalition if the planned £12bn cut in welfare went ahead.)

Now David Cameron’s new government is free to make those cuts in full, and free to implement the controversial universal credit scheme. This will all continue to take place, it was announced today, under the leadership of Iain Duncan Smith. The Mirror has described new plans as ‘pure evil’ – but at this depressing time it is important to stay clear-headed. So let’s reject the hyperbole for a second and look at what the Tories will actually need to do to welfare if they are to balance the books as planned.

The exact shape of the cuts has yet to be confirmed, but we do have a number: £12bn. Total government spending on social security is around £220 billion in 2015/16, meaning that £12bn would represent a cut of five per cent from the overall spend.

The IFS suggests that the Tories could meet this target by some combination of the following:

  • Abolishing child benefit and compensating low-income families through universal credit – this would reduce spending by around £5bn
  • Reducing the child element of universal credit by 30 per cent to reach its 2003/4 level in real terms would also cut spending by around £5bn
  • Taxing disability living allowance (DLA), personal independence payment (PIP) and attendance allowance could raise around £1½bn
  • Making all housing benefit recipients pay at least 10 per cent of their rent could cut by around £2½bn

All of these proposals will be extremely unwelcome to anybody who depends on welfare – not just the most vulnerable but also all low-income families with children. They are, however, suggestions from the IFS and have not been confirmed or ruled out by anyone from the Conservative party.

But DWP documents seen by The Guardian last week outlined a number of even more draconian alternatives suggested by Department staff themselves. These include increasing the Bedroom Tax, abolishing or reducing state-subsidised maternity pay, and reducing the time period for which a single parent can claim income support. The documents describe how colleagues consulted about these proposals found them to be ‘extremely controversial’.

Speculation aside, we do know that working-age benefits will be frozen in nominal terms until April 2018, affecting over 11 million families. The IFS says that ‘given current inflation expectations, the result would be relatively small falls in the real benefit entitlements of a large number of families’ and that this freeze will reduce spending in 2017-18 by around £1bn in today’s terms.

However, if inflation is higher than projected then real-terms cuts would be larger. The IFS recommends that when planning freezes the government make them sensitive to inflation risks; so far there has been no comment on this from the DWP.

On Friday, just hours after Conservative victory was sealed, the first step towards implementing reforms was taken when the DWP released an impact assessment of plans, announced in March, to cut the Access to Work scheme. In 2013/14 over 35,000 people received just over £3,000 each in support helping them stay in work; the DWP asks whether this could be done more cheaply, acknowledging the need to strike a balance between supporting as many disabled people as possible and ensuring individual users are given what is ‘reasonable’. The document sets out options for how to make the scheme more cost effective – the first is to ‘set a cap on the maximum value of support per user’.

The report finds that for any kind of cap, ‘the majority of users affected would be Deaf or hearing loss customers, rather than belonging to any other impairment group. There would also be a greater impact upon visually impaired users.’

But this is not just a suggestion – searing cuts to support at work for deaf users of British Sign language are already a reality. An inquiry last year found that the changes ‘threatened the employability’ of BSL users – and yet they are going ahead. Interestingly, the policy document outlining these measures was called ‘New measures to support more disabled people into work’.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

20 Responses to “Cutting support for deaf workers and increasing the Bedroom Tax: welcome back, Iain Duncan Smith”

  1. AlanGiles

    Smith is, and always was, a total arsehole. And he was among the worst of the “expenses scroungers”

  2. Leon Wolfeson

    The sort of person you’ve consistently stood with, on here. Let’s not forget that little factoid.

  3. AlanGiles

    Just in case you haven’t got the message yet,halfwit, the eight letter word I used about Smith applies equally to you. Now why don’t you just push off…

  4. Leon Wolfeson


    Of course you want to censor me, silence me, have your Tory views be the only one acceptable as you swear at people. Keep standing hand in hand with IDS, whose policies are yours.

    You can’t even be a graceful winner! Nope, I’m sure you’ll be asking for the right to speak against Tory policies be removed, and for all Jews to lose the right of free speech. Fits your MO *perfectly*

  5. Tim Rawlinson


  6. Wendy Mortimer

    if they freeze our benefits and raise the bedroom tax, em how do we afford to live. i’m on the bare essentials now ,and have had no heating on all winter ,only hot water at weekends.i work voluntary when my health allows it ,and by being in the charity shop i save on fuel bills.

  7. Joe Bloggs

    And still to come: American-style food stamps, but in the shape of a plastic top-up card, which can only be used to pay for food; no booze or fags.
    No Housing Benefit for the under 25s; the standard rate of PIP abolished, so that only the most seriously disabled shall receive the enhanced rate.
    Child Benefit limited to the first two children only.
    And in another sphere, more anti-trade union laws, starting with London Underground staff.
    We ain’t seen nothing yet.

  8. Gerschwin

    Excellent, let’s hope so.

  9. Leon Wolfeson

    More deaths, more poverty, you HOPE for it.

  10. Leon Wolfeson

    No, that’s a nasty attack on American food stamps.
    Those food stamps are ON TOP of every other benefit.

    Not a replacement for anything. And you miss out the other consequences of them as the only benefit – no way to pay for travel, for smaller shops or discounts to be used, etc.

  11. Joe Bloggs

    My dear fellow, I notice that you have a penchant for replying to every post here, and elsewhere. I hear regularly from American friends who have to endure the penalizing effect of having to use foodstamps.
    The effect of them is indeed to reduce the amount of cash received, not to replace it entirely, but even certain elements in American society want to see them phased out, or reduced.
    There is NO doubt that a similar system is being considered for this country
    .As a former DWP employee, with friends still working in the dept., I think that the info’ that I am getting is fairly reliable.
    Some of the changes coming may include changes to the status of pensioners this time round, and for the first time, them being included in the bedroom tax regime, which they are immune to right now.
    The Tories no longer have to worry about their vote, with five years of unbridled government to come.
    The media scare-mongering whipped up about the outcome of a Labour government propped up by a mob of Scottish revolutionaries, which probably lost Labour the election, might now be useful. The Labour opposition, along with 56 SNP, and possible 8 LibDem MPs and others,might present a formidable wall against the draconian cuts that the Tory filth is proposing.

  12. Dave Smith

    Sorry but its time the people brought the country to a stand still,They did it in other countries and ousted there leader.Why are we not doing the same ?

  13. Leon Wolfeson

    Again, though, it’s similar is it?

    Food Stamps in America are ON TOP of every other benefit, not a replacement for them.

  14. Leon Wolfeson

    Because things are not yet that bad. The city wobbles, though, oh it wobbles. Erk.

    (And I *hate* revolutionary scenarios)

  15. Vedia Can

    They are pushing us out of our houses to make space for the extra people coming in from the EU countries! #wewereherefirst

  16. ghost whistler

    So they area going to issue stamps on yup of reusable benefit payments? Somehow I don’t think so.

    Stamps/cards are utterly unworkable; how would you pay for a bus ticket?

  17. Jack Kingsley

    I think the SNP in Westminster will be a powerful weapon for all the opposition parties.With a majority of just 12 this Govt is ACTUALLY weaker than the Condem alliance. Personally I`d take out contracts in Tory marginals to force by elections and overturn the overall majority.

  18. Goffy

    I can only afford to eat once per day and i am diabetic and disabled. I take over 30+ painkillers per day and all the other pills i’m on for my condition and diabetes. I have the shakes bad every day because i’m only eating once per day. It will not take much for this government to put me in my coffin. I was not born disabled i was in a 3 car RTA which was not my fault. Before that i was working and paying into the system. While the tories were canvassing i asked them what did i do wrong to be treated like a scrounging vulture, i’m still waiting for a reply.

  19. Keith M

    Smith calls himself a practising Catholic. His interpretation of christianity is far from mine. Wonder why the Church have been so silent on his reappointment?

  20. Keith M

    We should remember that they have a small majority and with a united opposition and a sustained attack on their vile policies can be beaten down. Those marginal Tories need to be targeted and subjected to non stop questioning by their constituents.

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