The policies of austerity have hit Disabled People particularly badly. Since the Government’s Emergency Budget in 2010, Disabled People have seen massive cuts to their benefits and support services, including £18 billion from the benefits budget.
More Disabled People than non-disabled People are living in poverty. Welfare reforms have had a particularly disproportionate, cumulative impact on Disabled People’s rights to live independently and enjoy an adequate standard of living
UK data from 2015/16 shows that 26% of families where at least one member is disabled were living in poverty compared with 20% of families with no disabled members.
Across the UK, 18.4% of Disabled People aged 16-64 were considered to be in food poverty in 2014 compared with just 7.5% of non-disabled People. Disabled People over the age of 65 were twice as likely as non-disabled People in the same age group to be in food poverty: 6.8% compared with 3.3%.
Disabled People and Carers have already experienced a drop in income of £500 million since 2010 and most recently, one calculation is that with six simultaneous welfare cuts taking place, up to 3.7 million Disabled People will lose £28.3 billion of support by 2018. Twice as many Disabled adults live in persistent poverty compared with non-disabled adults.i
When the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was introduced to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA), the distance that a person was unable to walk in order to qualify for the enhanced mobility component and crucially access to Motability funding, was reduced from 50 metres to 20 metres.
Analysis of previously-released official data by Muscular Dystrophy UK shows that the number of people eligible for Motability funding has fallen in half during the reassessment process for PIP. Of the 254,200 people who were eligible for Motability funding under DLA who were reassessed for PIP by 31 October 2016, 126,300 people have lost access. 51,000 people have already returned their Motability funded cars.
These changes represent a serious threat to independence, social inclusion and quality of life. There are also serious risks to the economy with more Disabled People dropping out of work or education leading to increased poverty and isolation, with the associated health risks. This will inevitably lead to rising costs elsewhere, such as unemployment benefits, social care and the NHS.
What is even more unfair is that Disabled People are taking a bigger ‘hit’ from the cuts than any other group in society. A recent report by the Centre for Welfare Reform found that Disabled People, who make up 8% of the population, are being hit by a massive 29% of all cuts being implemented.ii This cannot be allowed to continue.
We call on all political parties to commit to undertaking, at the earliest opportunity, a cumulative impact assessment of the impact which welfare reform, changes to social care funding and eligibility criteria and the closure of the ILF will have on Disabled People. All further cuts to welfare benefits for Disabled People should be put on hold until this assessment has been completed.
We further call on all political parties to commit to a government-led inquiry into the incidence of suicides amongst Disabled People linked to benefit sanctions and to cuts in services.
We also call on all political parties to commit to guarantee that no Disabled People will lose vital support as a result of the change from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and to reverse the change to the 20 metre rule.
i British Household Survey 2005-08