Disabled people with the highest support needs will lose 19 times more than the average person as a result of “devastating” government cuts to services and benefits, according to a new report.
The report A Fair Society? How the Cuts Target Disabled People, accuses the government of aiming the bulk of its cuts at areas that are “least likely to cause embarrassment” to MPs, even though these are areas that are “likely to be most socially damaging”.
The report, written for The Campaign for a Fair Society (CFS) – an alliance of disabled people and disability organisations – says that cuts to English local government and benefits make up more than half of all the coalition’s cuts, even though they represent only about a quarter of central government spending.
Because government cuts have been targeted on local government, the report argues, and more than three-fifths of council spending is on social care, the cuts “are not fair but targeted, and they target people in poverty, disabled people and their families”.
Jim Elder-Woodward, a leading disabled campaigner and chair of CFS’s UK steering group, said the report showed the government was targeting disabled people and those on welfare and that the cuts were “unjustified, unfair and extremely dangerous”.
He said: “There are much more humane ways of cutting the deficit, other than cutting the lifelines to so many vulnerable people.”
And he accused the government of “vilifying and stigmatising” those on welfare as “lazy scroungers” and “scoundrels, crooks and n’er-do-wells”.
Dr Simon Duffy, director of The Centre for Welfare Reform, who wrote the report, suggested that spending on social care would be cut by as much as 50 per cent by 2018.
He says in the report: “It is difficult to overstate the problem here. These kinds of cuts (cuts to services that have historically always been under-funded) are devastating.”
The report points to cuts to funding for voluntary organisations, care and support and supported housing, and benefit cuts such as the closure of the Independent Living Fund, cuts to disability living allowance spending as it is replaced by personal independence payment, and the time-limiting and means-testing of employment and support allowance.
Duffy calculates that the poorest 21 per cent of the population will bear 39 per cent of the government’s cuts, while disabled people (eight per cent of the population) will bear 29 per cent of the cuts, and disabled people with the highest support needs (two per cent of the population) will bear 15 per cent of the cuts.
He says the combination of cuts to benefits and services means disabled people will lose an average £4,410 per person – nine times more than the burden placed on the average person.
And the two per cent with the highest support needs will lose an average of £8,832 per person – 19 times more than the burden placed on the average person.
The report repeats the call by opposition MPs and many disabled activists for the government to carry out an assessment of the cumulative impact of all of its cuts on disabled people.
It also calls for a halt to the cuts and a fairer and more sustainable welfare system.
Meanwhile, a new report by five disability charities – Scope, Mencap, National Autistic Society, Sense and Leonard Cheshire Disability – says the social care system for working-age disabled adults is underfunded by at least £1.2 billion a year.
A survey of more than 600 disabled adults for the report found over a third (36 per cent) said that – because of the withdrawal of funding for their support – they were unable to fulfil basic personal care tasks such as washing once a day, getting dressed or leaving the house.
One in three said they had fallen into debt in order to pay for their care.
Research commissioned by Scope suggested that an anticipated government decision to restrict council-funded care to those with “substantial” needs – as part of its new care and support reforms – would mean more than 100,000 people with “moderate” needs would be at risk of not getting the basic support they needed to help them eat, wash and leave their homes.
Setting the eligibility threshold at the “moderate” level of need – rather than substantial – for working-age disabled people would cost an extra £1.2 billion a year, says the report.
16 January 2013