The government’s benefit reforms will have a deeply negative impact on disabled people, according to a major survey of disabled people’s organisations (DPOs).
The UK Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC) survey found many of the 90 or so DPOs that took part were particularly concerned about the impact of the reforms on disabled people with hidden or fluctuating conditions.
Many also raised concerns that they would not have enough funding to cope with the expected sharp increase in requests for advice and support from disabled people as a result of the reforms.
The survey found seven in ten DPOs thought that proposed reviews of disabled people’s entitlement to disability living allowance (DLA), incapacity benefit (IB) and housing benefit (HB) would have a “very negative impact” on their service-users.
Those who took part in the survey were most concerned about the planned changes to DLA assessments.
Nearly seven in ten DPOs said the benefits changes would also have a negative impact on their own organisation, with longer waiting lists for advice and support and fewer volunteers willing to risk being seen as “well enough to work”.
Manchester Disabled People’s Access Group told UKDPC the proposed benefit changes would “knock back the concept of independent living at least 30 years”, while disabled people would become “homeless and poverty stricken”.
Some DPOs also said they feared their own organisation could have to close, as a result of cuts to local authority “core funding”.
Among its recommendations, the UKDPC report calls on the government to consult disabled people and DPOs at “every stage” of its reforms, with frequent reviews and particular attention paid to the impact on those with hidden or fluctuating conditions.
Jaspal Dhani, chief executive of UKDPC, said the survey results showed that “regressive” government policies would “seriously undermine” the rights of disabled people and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
He added: “The government must take heed of the concerns raised by disabled people and their organisations.”
13 October 2010