Families with at least one disabled adult and child are £6,500 worse off a year thanks to government cutsby Nathan Hudson-Sharp / March 14, 2018 / Leave a comment
Disquiet about the impacts of welfare reform on disabled people has been mounting for some time. Regularly we see reports that describe the “untenable human costs” of welfare reform, and the subsequent “grave and systematic” violations of the rights of disabled people. Despite these flurries of reporting and public outcry, however, it is perhaps easy to forget the cumulative impact welfare reform has had on Britain’s disabled.
Within this context, myself and colleagues at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research were commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to carry out a review of the impact of welfare reform, to examine the evidence on the ways in which “protected groups” have been affected. Published today, our report collates over 400 studies and shows that welfare reform has had a devastating impact on Britain’s most disadvantaged—and particularly on the disabled.
Through the culmination of multiple cuts and restrictions to entitlement, disabled people have been extensively and disproportionately affected by welfare reform.
Among the most shocking findings is the fact that, as a result of policy changes made between May 2010 and January 2018, families with at least one disabled adult and one disabled child are now £6,500 worse off a year than they otherwise would be; over 13 per cent of their annual income.
In further proof of the increasingly hostile climate for disabled people, we also found that there has been a seven-fold rise in the number of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants being sanctioned. ESA provides money to those who can’t work because of illness or disability.
There’s more. Survey research shows 30 per cent of Macmillan Cancer Support benefit advisers knowing of patients who have died while waiting for their benefits, 48 per cent knowing of patients not being able to afford to feed themselves, and 59 per cent who describe patients not being able to heat their homes.
The problem is further compounded by research that shows the government’s flagship Work Programme having virtually no impact on supporting some disabled people into work; with only 5 per cent of claimants with mental health or behavioural disorders finding a job in 2013.
And, if the statistics weren’t hard-hitting enough, the report is also littered with accounts of chronically ill and disabled people being driven toward debt, poverty, homelessness, hunger and even suicide.
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