Welfare reforms 'to hit disabled'
Around 500,000 disabled people are "expected to lose out" when the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is scrapped, a new report claims.
The Tipping Point, authored by a coalition of 90 disabled people's organisations and charities called The Hardest Hit, was highly critical of the Government's attitude to disabled people, claiming there has been a £500 million drop in disability support since George Osborne's 2010 Emergency Budget.
The report's research, largely based around surveys and interviews with both disabled claimants and welfare officers, showed that 65% of respondents believe they would have to give up work without the support of the DLA.
The figures suggested the loss of employees from the workforce could be as high as 50,400, resulting in a possible reduction of £293.3 million in tax receipts to the Treasury. But the report did stress that variables make calculating exact figures impossible.
The Department for Work and Pensions had "failed to consider" knock on effects of scrapping the DLA, the report claimed, citing examples such as increased burdens on council funded care if 500,000 people were to lose benefits. It argued the £2 billion in savings expected by the Government from ending DLA is "overestimated" by potentially £1.6 billion.
Increased costs such as implementation; lost tax revenue; and increased dependence on council services, were predicted by the report to largely cancel out hoped for savings.
The Government's disability assessment process was also criticised by the report, with 65% of interviewees saying that disability assessors "did not understand their condition", and 87% of welfare advisors arguing "constant re-assessments for benefits are damaging people's health".
The report highlighted the fact that disabled people are "twice as likely to live in poverty" and only a small loss of income can "tip people with a disability into greater dependence on health and social care services or friends and family".
Jaspal Dhani, chief executive of the UK Disabled People's Council (UKDPC) and co-chair of the Hardest Hit campaign, said: "Disabled people, those with long-term conditions and their families are already at risk of hardship and face massive barriers to getting into work and education. Cuts to the support they depend upon risk pushing them into poverty, debt and isolation.
"The Chancellor has just announced a further £10 billion cut to the welfare budget. With £9 billion having already been removed from disability benefits and services in this Parliament, disabled people are already at a tipping point."