Government to review impact of welfare reforms


The government has ordered a review of how its package of welfare reforms will affect disabled people.

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith announced the “strategic review” following growing anger among disabled people at repeated government references to the need to cut spending on disability benefits, as well as concerns about other welfare reforms and threatened cuts to public spending.

Duncan Smith claimed he had ordered the review because he was “committed to ensuring that disabled people and carers receive the support that they deserve”.

The review will look at the impact of scrapping Labour’s employment support programmes and replacing them with a single work programme, as well as reforms around incapacity benefits and disability living allowance among other measures.

The review was announced during the final day of the budget debate – although it was not publicised by the government – and will be carried out by the Conservative minister for disabled people, Maria Miller.

Duncan Smith said Miller would take a “principled look” at the support provided for disabled people, “to ensure that the effect of all the measures is appropriate and that they work”.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said afterwards: “The secretary of state has asked the minister for disabled people to conduct a strategic review of how proposed welfare reforms will impact on disabled people and carers as a key part of her role.

“She will maintain an ongoing dialogue with the secretary of state on this moving forward to ensure that the interests of disabled people are looked after as we make fundamental reforms to the welfare system.”

Neil Coyle, director of policy for Disability Alliance (DA), welcomed the announcement. He said DA had called for such a review in its response to last week’s emergency budget.

Anne Kane, policy manager for Inclusion London, said she hoped the review would be “serious” and that disabled people’s organisations would be able “to make it clear how damaging the impact of these changes threaten to be”.

1 July 2010