[Blog updated 6 March 2012]
Online disability campaign group The Broken of Britain is today calling on bloggers to demonstrate online against the impending cuts to public spending facing disabled people in its blogswarm.
But what exactly are those cuts? Here’s a rundown of ten of the worst; no wonder disabled people feel this government has got something against them.
1) Scrapping disability living allowance and replacing it with the personal independence payment from 2013 for working-age adults. This reform, which will include a new assessment system, is designed to cut the number of claimants by 20%, meaning 360,000 people will lose out on support, saving the government £360m in 2013-14 and £1.075bn in 2014-15.
2) Scrapping the mobility component of disability living allowance – worth up to £50 a week - for publicly-funded care home residents and children in residential special schools. This money pays for transport for residents to leisure activities or to visit friends. It will affect 80,000 people, saving the government £135m a year. [Update - thanks to pressure from campaigners this cut was dropped in November 2011].
3) Cutting social care support for severely disabled people through the Independent Living Fund. The ILF is now closed permanently to new clients. This means that people who would previously have had their council social care packages topped up by the ILF will have this no longer. The ILF itself will be scrapped from 2015 onwards, raising questions about the future funding of existing claimants.
4) Social care cuts. Councils with social services responsibilities in England face average cuts in their budgets of 4.7% next year on the government’s figures. Many are increasing eligibility thresholds or means-tested charges, both of which will hit disabled people’s access to care and income levels.
5) Supporting People cuts. Councils are planning average cuts next year of 17% from their funding of supported housing schemes for groups including people with learning disabilities or mental health or substance misuse problems, a survey has found.
6) Welfare cuts for incapacity benefit claimants following reassessment. 1.5m incapacity benefit claimants will be reassessed on their fitness to work from 2011-14, using the controversial work capability assessment. The government expects 23% to be deemed fit for work, meaning they will be transferred to jobseeker’s allowance, meaning they will lose £25 a week or more.
7) Cuts for employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants. This is a big one. The government expects to save £2bn in 2014-15 by time limiting ESA (the successor benefit to incapacity benefit) for some claimants to one year. Those losing out will be those found to have some future prospect of working, with support, who claim ESA on the basis of national insurance contributions not on the basis of their low incomes. This comes in from 2012.
8) Cutting the rate at which benefits increase each year. This apparently technical change – it means the value of benefits will increase in line with the consumer price index rather than the typically higher retail index – will net the government almost £6bn a year. This will affect DLA, attendance allowance, carer’s allowance and employment and support allowance and make many disabled people and their carers poorer than they would otherwise have been.
9) Cutting mortgage interest relief. The National Housing Federation has estimated that 64,000 disabled homeowners could be at risk of losing their homes due to the government’s decision to reduce support with mortgage interest payments for them by cutting the interest rate at which support is given.
10) Housing benefit. Many disabled people will be affected by the cuts to housing benefit, and there have been warnings that many will be driven into further poverty and possible homelessness. An estimated two million disabled people live in the private rented sector and many will be affected to the cuts to the benefit, which include capping payments and cutting housing benefit levels by 10% for those who have been on jobseeker’s allowance (and many more disabled people will be on JSA due to point 6 above).
(Image by TheGiantVermin from Flickr)