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Disabled Hardest Hit in UK Welfare Reform

  • Date: 2011/03/23
  • Disability Alliance
  • Synopsis : Concerns over impact of reforms to vital benefits like Employment and Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance on disabled people and their families.

Main Document

A report published today by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), a coalition of 41 charities and organizations (1), shows how welfare reform changes may harm disabled people.

The report highlights concerns over the impact of reforms to vital benefits like Employment and Support Allowance (ESA; 2) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA; 3) on thousands of disabled people and their families.

The report, Benefiting disabled people presents the findings of recent surveys.

The Disability Benefits Consortium surveyed 6,000 disabled people and found that:

43% of those who had been for a medical assessment for ESA said it made their condition worse because of the stress and anxiety caused;

Nearly 7 out of 10 believed the assessment failed to take account of how their condition fluctuates; and

Of those not in work, more than half have been unable to find work for over two years.

Co-chair of the DBC policy group, Rebecca Rennison from Leonard Cheshire Disability, said: "Our research shows the difficulties thousands of disabled people face when seeking support from the benefits system. Much more work is urgently needed to ensure that benefits like ESA help disabled people, in particular as the Government presses ahead with plans to reassess over one million people currently receiving Incapacity Benefit."

Disability Alliance surveyed 1,700 people about their experience of Disability Living Allowance, a benefit designed to help meet the extra costs associated with disability.

Among respondents:

Fewer than 10% said DLA covered all their disability-related costs; and

A quarter suggested their disability-related expenditure was over £100 per week (i.e. 40% higher than the average DLA weekly payment).

Neil Coyle, Disability Alliance Director of Policy said: "The Government plans to cut over £2 billion from DLA expenditure despite the evidence on disabled people's rising costs of living. This is likely to increase disability poverty - and risks longer-term costs to the NHS, councils and Treasury from disabled people not able to manage conditions and avoid hospitalization for example".

Disabled people, their families and charities want the Government to listen to what they are saying about proposed changes to vital benefits. They are campaigning to ensure that as the Government seeks to cut public spending disabled people are not 'the hardest hit'.

On 11 May thousands of disabled people and their families will protest outside Parliament and lobby their MPs to help them realize the impact of changes to vital benefits like ESA and DLA. Please visit: www.hardesthit.org.uk to find out how you can take action to support the campaign or to download a copy of the report, Benefiting disabled people

Chair of the DBC campaigns group, Federico Moscogiuri, from Arthritis Care, said: "The shake up of the benefits system is set to hit disabled people particularly hard, with future spending on DLA expected to be cut by a huge 20%. "The Hardest Hit" campaign aims to fight damaging cuts to disability benefits. We're urging our supporters, their families and friends, to join the march at Westminster, on 11 May, so that their voices can be heard."

1) The DBC members are: Action for Blind People, Action for M.E., Age UK, Arthritis Care, Breast Cancer Care, Carers UK, Child Poverty Action Group, Citizens Advice, Clic Sargent, Cystic Fibrosis Trust, Deafblind UK, Disability Alliance, Every Disabled Child Matters, Guide Dogs, Haemophilia Society LASA, Leaning Disability Coalition, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Macmillan Cancer Support, Mencap, Meningitis Research Foundation, Mind, Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association, MS Society, Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, National AIDS Trust, National Autistic Society (NAS), National Deaf Children's Society, Parkinson's UK, Rethink, Royal Association for Disability Rights (RADAR), Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), RSI Action, Scope, Sense, Skill, Sue Ryder, TUC, United Response, Vitalise.

2) ESA is paid to people with a significant health condition, impairment or injury as an 'out of work' benefit. Most people receiving ESA are required to undertake some work related activity.

3) DLA can be paid to disabled people in or out of work to help meet higher costs of living.





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