Half of working disability living allowance (DLA) claimants will have to stop working if they are deemed ineligible for the benefit as a result of proposed government cuts, a survey by Disability Alliance has found.
The results were released at the start of a three-day online campaign – One Month Before Heartbreak – against government plans to reform the benefit, which the alliance estimates could see 750,000 people lose support, and other disability cuts.
The government has received criticism that the reforms are primarily motivated by desires to cut the DLA bill regardless of the effect on disabled people.
Today’s figures are the interim findings of a survey to inform the alliance’s response to the government’s consultation, which closes on the 14 February.
Neil Coyle, director of policy at Disability Alliance, said: “The full range of cuts will considerably impact upon disabled people but the DLA reform is particularly dangerous as it could lead to considerably higher state costs – to the NHS, councils and in lost tax contributions.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said the government were ensuring DLA reached the most vulnerable with the changes. She added: “At the moment 80% of people on DLA do not work and we want to make sure that disabled people who can work get all the help and support they need to do so. Alongside DLA, disabled people who can work will get more tailored help then ever before through the Work Choice programme, the new Work Programme and the Access to Work scheme.”
The survey also revealed disabled people’s fears about the cuts. “I would have to consider suicide as a serious possibility,” said one respondent. “DLA makes the difference between having a tiny little bit of independence and life not being worth living.”
Another respondent said: “If I lost my DLA my illness would get stronger and I would eventually starve and be put back in my mental health hospital again for my own well being.”
“If my DLA was reviewed again I don’t think I would have the will to live anymore,” added another.
Coyle said he was extremely concerned that the government’s plans had led to disabled people considering their own self-worth.
One Month Before Heartbreak is organised by The Broken of Britain – a grassroots disability body set up to campaign against the cuts. It is calling on disabled people and others to post blogs opposing the changes.
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