Disabled people hit by £9bn of welfare cuts
1 October 2010
New research by Demos, funded by Scope and the Barrow Cadbury Trust, shows disabled people will be caught in the cross-fire of Government cuts
- Families with disabled children to lose over £3,000 each by 2015
- Couples where one partner acts as a carer to their disabled partner will lose more than £3,000 as a couple each by 2015
- Individuals moved from Incapacity Benefit to Job Seekers Allowance will lose nearly £9,000 each by 2015
The Government’s proposed welfare reforms will see 3.5 million disabled people lose over £9.2 billion of critical support by 2015 pushing them further into poverty and closer to the fringes of society. Plans to move disabled people onto Job Seekers Allowance will account for half (£4.87 billion) of these losses.
The report, Destination Unknown, also questions Government claims that the proposals will result in more disabled people moving into work, arguing that, in fact, they are likely to result in more disabled people ending up trapped in long-term unemployment and a low pay no pay cycle – ultimately costing the tax-payer far more.
The £9 billion of cuts will affect every aspect of the day-to-day support disabled people rely on to live - including housing, living costs and social care support. Examples of this are, by 2015:
- 170,830 families where both parents care for a disabled child will lose £520 million
- 516,450 disabled adults whose partner is a full time carer will lose £1.258 billion
- 98,170 single disabled people will lose £127 million
- 114,066 disabled people moved from incapacity benefit (and ESA) to Job Seekers allowance will lose £994 million
Recommendations from Destination Unknown include:
- Capitalise Housing Benefit to help more disabled people own their own home. Some disabled people will spend a lifetime on Housing Benefit (or indeed, the housing component of a future Universal Credit) and have no opportunity to build assets. Allowing them to take a lump sum of housing benefit will enable them to purchase a house.
- Reform the Work Capability Assessment to assess a range of capabilities. A personalised test that identifies the physical, psychological, social and practical barriers to employment is needed to broaden the focus away from just medical difficulties.
- Establish a ‘Work-Ready’ group as part of ESA and a future disability component of a Universal Credit for the majority of reassessed Incapacity Benefit claimants found fit to work, rather than moving them on to Job Seekers Allowance. The Work Ready group would claim the same level of benefit as JSA, but would not be subject to the same conditionality and penalty regime to recognise the practical difficulties facing many disabled people.
- Make ‘Work Able’ and ‘Work Ready’ out of work claimants automatically eligible for the Work Choice support scheme and Access to Work. Access to Work is proven to be highly successful and for every £1 spent, returns £1.48 in tax and National Insurance contributions of employed disabled people, but relies on people knowing to apply for it. Both should be automatically provided.
Kitty Ussher, Director of Demos, said:
“There are good ways to reform welfare, but this is not one of them. The emerging evidence from recent years is that the only way to get those furthest from the labour market back into work is through individual client-led support.
“Cutting the welfare bill is attractive to government in the current climate, but without better support for individuals it threatens to just exclude people further, rather than transforming their lives for the better. We call on policy-makers to focus more on what works, or the ultimate prize of giving more people control over their lives by having the chance to earn a living will be lost.”
Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of disability charity Scope, continued:
"These alarming figures prove just how severely hit disabled people will be by proposed cuts. With such dramatic losses on the horizon, how will the Government be able to ‘protect’ the people who need support the most? Benefits are not optional extras - they are vital lifelines to help disabled people participate in our society. Without them hundreds of thousands of disabled people will be forced into a cycle of long-term unemployment, poverty and social exclusion. That is not only bad for disabled people but also bad for the public purse.
"Disabled people must not be pushed even further backwards in our society by the pursuit of deficit reduction. The Government must take stock and conduct a full impact assessment on the consequences of stripping critical support from disabled people and their families."
Sara Llewellin, Chief Executive of the Barrow Cadbury Trust, added:
"This is extremely worrying evidence that the Government will break its promise to ensure cuts are progressive and fair. If cuts are allowed to hit the most vulnerable the hardest, the consequences will be felt for decades to come. We must hold the Government to account over its promises and that means it must rapidly and radically rethink this slash and burn approach to welfare benefits.”
Scope and the Barrow Cadbury Trust today urge the Government to take all the steps necessary to ensure they fully realise the true impact these cuts will have on the lives of millions of disabled people by carrying out a full and detailed impact assessment. This needs to take into consideration the realities of everyday life and demonstrate how the Government will ensure disabled people do not end up pushed further into poverty.
Case studies are available. For interviews and case studies please contact:
Beatrice Karol Burks - Beatrice.email@example.com - 020 7367 6325 / 07929 474938
Scope Press Office - firstname.lastname@example.org - 020 7619 7200 / 07843 467948
Barrow Cadbury Trust
Annie Bruzzone - Annie.Bruzzone@champollion.co.uk - 020 7149 3705 / 07786 557182
Notes to the Editor:
About the research
Destination Unknown used typical case studies to assess the impact of changes to the welfare system on the typical experiences of disabled people. The case studies highlight the expected losses:
|Case study||Total loss 2011 - 2015||Number of people this applies to||Total loss as a group by 2015|
|A disabled child with two full-time carer parents||£3,043||170,830||£520m|
|Unemployed man whose wife is his full-time carer||£2,436*||516,450||£1.258bn|
|Single unemployed man with debts||£1,295||98,170||£127m|
|Single, female, unemployed wheelchair user, being moved onto JSA ||£8,715||23% of 495,940||£994m|
* In addition, the wife, who is a full-time carer, will lose £707 over the next five years, creating a total loss to the couple of £3,143.
The report makes specific recommendations of how the government’s welfare reform strategy could be more inclusive and suitable for a larger number of disabled people and could help to mitigate some of the very worst effects these reforms will currently have.
The estimated impact for all 3,618,370 people claiming some form of incapacity benefits is, in total £9,223,052,544.
This number has been constructed by:
- Using the DWP's Feb 2010 figures for the numbers of people in Great Britain claiming each combination of disability-related benefits. These have then been uprated to reflect the impact of shifting from RPI/Rossi to CPI.
- In addition, the research calculated the impact of moving 500,000 people from Incapacity Benefit on to JSA (at a total cost of £4.87bn). It is assumed that IB was the only benefit these people had previously claimed. It is assumed that those 500,000 people are re-assessed on to JSA from IB in 2013.
Demos is a think-tank focused on power and politics. Our unique approach challenges the traditional, 'ivory tower' model of policymaking by giving a voice to people and communities. We work together with the groups and individuals who are the focus of our research, including them in citizens’ juries, deliberative workshops, focus groups and ethnographic research. Through our high quality and socially responsible research, Demos has established itself as the leading independent think tank in British politics. Our work is driven by the goal of a society populated by free, capable, secure and powerful citizens.
Scope believes disabled people should have the same opportunities as everyone else. We run services and campaigns with disabled people to make this happen. As a charity with expertise in complex support needs and cerebral palsy we never set limits on potential.
About The Barrow Cadbury Trust
The Barrow Cadbury Trust is an independent charitable foundation committed to supporting vulnerable and marginalised people in society. The Trust promotes social justice through grant making and research in three core policy areas: migration, poverty and inclusion and criminal justice. The Trust aims to close the gaps in current policy and practice by supporting work in local communities and acting as a bridge between the grassroots and national and international policymakers.