Today the Work and Pensions Committee has used parliamentary powers to publish a report The Uses of Health and Disability Benefits commissioned by the Government into disabled people’s experiences of the benefits system that the DWP had consistently refused to make public.
Anastasia Berry, Policy Co-Chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium and Policy Manager at the MS Society says: “Despite the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) relentless attempts to bury this research, we can finally see what they’ve been so desperate to hide. The report was commissioned to provide in-depth insights into how disabled people spend the financial support they receive, which is supposed to help with daily living and the extra costs they face because of their disability. But what it has uncovered is the inadequacy of these benefits for many disabled people. It shows some are struggling to pay for essential day-to-day expenses, such as food, heating and medications, let alone these extra costs.
“The DWP’s failed cover-up of this damning research is just the latest example of their disregard for disabled people, including those with MS. For years, disabled people have been subjected to a benefits system which is stressful, confusing, and fails to provide the basic support they need. Now, with the cost of living crisis erupting, many are reaching breaking point. The Government can no longer continue to push disabled people aside, or hide key pieces of evidence. They must urgently increase benefits by 6% in April, in line with current inflation, and create a social security system that puts disabled people first.”
Baroness Ruth Lister, who has repeatedly questioned the DWP’s refusal to publish the report, told the DBC: “It really is not possible to discuss support for disabled people without shining a light on the adequacy – or otherwise – of benefits. The DWP has been silent on this issue, not mentioning adequacy once in last year’s health and disability Green Paper. This must change. The Work and Pensions Committee is to be congratulated on bringing this report into the public domain, where it should have been long ago”.