Disabled people ‘will lose more than £28 billion in benefits’


theweek120by150Disabled people are set to lose more than £28 billion in benefits by 2018 as a result of government cuts and reforms to the welfare system, according to new research.

The research – by the disability charity Scope and the thinktank Demos – calculates that 3.7 million disabled people will lose out as a result of the cuts.

By 2018, some disabled people could be affected by at least six different cuts, through reforms to working-age disability living allowance (DLA), housing benefit, and employment and support allowance (ESA). Some could lose more than £23,000 by 2018.

About 150,000 disabled people are set to lose more than £15,000 each by 2018, with the worst-hit likely to be those – in the work-related activity group – who are affected by the new 12-month time limit on the contributory form of ESA.

Those who lose their DLA when it is replaced by the new personal independence payment will also be hit hard.

The research was carried out in a bid to measure the cumulative impact of all of the government’s welfare cuts on disabled people, something the government insists is impossible.

But even the cuts assessed by Scope and Demos under-estimate the total impact of the government’s reforms.

The researchers found that the combined impact of other welfare cuts was too difficult to calculate, including the freezing of child benefit (affecting one million disabled parents), the closure of the Independent Living Fund (affecting 19,000 disabled people), and cuts to council tax credit (1.38 million disabled people) and local housing allowances for private tenants (827,000 disabled people).

There are also continuing restrictions on social care, with local authorities tightening eligibility criteria, increasing charges, and cutting services.

Richard Hawkes, Scope’s chief executive, said: “In 2013, disabled people are already struggling to pay the bills. Living costs are spiralling. Income is flat-lining. We know many are getting in debt, just to pay for essentials.

“What’s the government’s response? The same group of disabled people face not just one or two cuts to their support, but in some cases three, four, five or even six cuts.

“It paints a frightening picture of the financial struggles affecting disabled people in 2013.”

27 March 2013