Our new report published today (22 October, 2012) exposes how the Government’s welfare cuts are hitting disabled people hardest:
- 8 in 10 (85 per cent) claim losing their Disability Living Allowance (DLA) would drive them into isolation, and would leave them struggling to manage their condition (84 per cent).
- 9 in 10 (95 per cent) fear that losing DLA would be detrimental to their health.
- 9 in 10 (87 per cent) disabled people said their everyday living costs are significantly higher because of their condition
The Hardest Hit, a coalition of over 90 disabled people’s organisations and charities, produced the report ‘The Tipping Point’ which brings together a survey of over 4,500 disabled people, a poll of more than 350 independent welfare advisors, and more than 50 in-depth interviews with disabled people with varying conditions and impairments. The report reveals some shocking statistics:
- More than three quarters (78 per cent) of disabled people said their health got worse as a result of the stress caused by their Work Capability Assessment (WCA) for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Two thirds (65 per cent) of disabled people felt that ESA assessors did not understand their condition
- Nearly 9 in 10 (87 per cent) welfare advisors said the constant re-assessments for benefits are damaging people’s health
- 9 in 10 (90 per cent) welfare advisors said that too many disabled people are slipping through the net and are left without adequate support by the welfare system.
Despite much hype about the recent Paralympic Games seemingly shifting the nation’s perception of the UK’s 11 million disabled people, the number of disability hate crime incidents in England and Wales is increasing dramatically and a survey reveals plummeting levels of public support for benefits for disabled people who cannot work.
The report highlights that disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty and even a small loss of income can tip people with a disability into greater dependence on health and social care services or friends and family.
It’s predicted that Britain’s 3.6 million people claiming disability benefits will be £9 billion worse off from 2010 to the end of this Parliament, with an estimated 500,000 disabled people expected to lose out when DLA becomes Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in April 2013.The Government claims it will claw back about £2.2 billion but the Hardest Hit coalition estimates the potential costs of abolishing DLA will be about £1.6 billion – meaning the savings are a mere drop in the ocean compared with the £9 billion being lost in tax evasion and avoidance.
And it doesn’t end there. Around 450,000 disabled households are set to lose out under the new Universal Credit (UC) system. For example, 100,000 families with disabled children stand to lose up to £28 a week.
The Hardest Hit coalition is calling on the Government to rule out targeting disabled people for further spending cuts in the next Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review, and to ensure that it gets urgent decisions right for disabled people in the short term. In particular, we call on the Government to:
- Learn from the mistakes it made with WCA and ensure the assessment for PIP is as fair and as clear as possible to avoid costly tribunals, more anxiety and ill health
- Reform the WCA to ensure that it is working consistently and fairly
- Get Universal Credit (UC) right, ensuring disabled people don’t lose out on vital income in the transition to UC
- Provide a lasting solution to the crisis in social care which has endured years of chronic underfunding.
Jaspal Dhani, CEO of the UK Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC) and co-chair of the Hardest Hit campaign, said:
“Disabled people, those with long-term conditions and their families are already at risk of hardship and face massive barriers to getting into work and education. Cuts to the support they depend upon risk pushing them into poverty, debt and isolation.
“The Chancellor has just announced a further £10 billion cut to the welfare budget. With £9 billion having already been removed from disability benefits and services in this Parliament, disabled people are already at a tipping point. The Government has some urgent choices to make, but must rule out targeting disabled people for further spending cuts in the next Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review.”