Why won’t ministers come clean about the impact of cuts on disabled people? – Frances Ryan


B
ack in 2014, armed with only a laptop and phone, disabled campaigners started a hunt for the truth. As policies including the bedroom tax, the abolition of disability living allowance, and the rollout of controversial out-of-work sickness benefits hit, War on Welfare (Wow) called on the coalition government to carry out a cumulative impact assessment of the wave of disability cuts to measure the effect on disabled people. It resulted in a debate in parliament – the first time disabled people had secured a debate in the main chamber of the House of Commons – but no action

Now, four years on, Wow has gained the backing of a cross-party coalition that wants Theresa May’s government to calculate the overall impact of the so-called welfare reforms on disabled people. Every party except the Conservatives is in favour of a Commons debate on conducting this assessment, including the DUP. In light of the pressure over Northern Irish abortion reform, their support for detailed analysis of the impact of Tory disability cuts is another awkward clash between May and the DUP’s 10 MPs propping up her administration. But more than that, it’s a sign of hope that ministers may have to finally investigate just what damage their disability cuts are causing – from the social care crisis to cuts to multiple parts of the NHS, to the disastrous rollout of universal credit; now delayed for an extra year until 2023

Last week’s damning report by the National Audit Office (NAO) on universal credit castigated the system’s inability to protect and support “vulnerable claimants”. It follows the revelation this month that the government was forced to say it would repay thousands of severely disabled people made worse off under the UC system ahead of the high court ruling last week that it was “discriminatory” to have docked two disabled men’s benefits after transferring to UC. Following pressure from disability groups, this week ministers made another U-turn, this time to stop repeatedly testing some disabled people for personal independence payments.

The government’s austerity programme has resulted in multiple reductions in income since 2010 that have hit disabled people all at once and disproportionately. Being hit by the bedroom tax is tough – but losing your sickness benefits as well after being found “fit for work” is even harder.

If you need an insight into the damage these policies have done, just go to Wow Voices, a website set up by campaigners that features disabled people explaining the impact of cuts on them. One woman with terminal breast cancer writes of how, for the last 18 months, she’s been told she needs to be reassessed for her benefits every six months, and she’s frantic about the thought of losing her support. “I’ve cried more about this than my terminal diagnosis,” she says. 

The UN’s damning report in 2016 into the UK’s “violations” of disabled people’s rights has put further pressure on the government over its treatment of disabled citizens. Meanwhile, the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s own cumulative impact assessment shows that families with a disabled adult and a disabled child will lose £5,500 a year by 2022 as a result of tax and benefit changes – contradicting the government’s claim that such analysis would be “too complex” to do. 

This month, research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found around 650,000 people with mental and physical health problems were officially destitute in the UK last year – that means being so poor, they can’t afford deodorant, the electric, or regular meals – with social security changes found to be a key cause. It’s bad enough for ministers to take away state support from disabled people en masse, but to refuse to analyse its effects is the definition of irresponsible. The Conservatives must finally shine a light on the impact that disability cuts have had. What are they so afraid of?

 

Related

The government response to the WoW petition is irrational, incoherent nonsense on stilts

The government refuse to carry out a cumulative impact assessment of welfare “reforms”. Again

 


I write voluntarily, to do the best I can to raise awareness of political and social issues. In particular I research and write about how policy impacts on citizen wellbeing and human rights. I also co-run a group on Facebook to support other disabled people going through ESA and PIP assessments, mandatory reviews and appeals.

I don’t make any money from my work. I am disabled and don’t have any paid employment. But you can contribute by making a donation and help me continue to research and write informative, insightful and independent articles, and to provide support to others. The smallest amount is much appreciated – thank you.

11 thoughts on “Why won’t ministers come clean about the impact of cuts on disabled people? – Frances Ryan

  1. come come now aktion t4 culling the stock through benefits denial if this figure of how many deaths comes to light there would be riots in the streets but the peasants are kept in the dark by these greedy people in power jeff3

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  2. The thing that really worries me about all of this is that I remember the Thatcher government doing exactly the same things, also making a cock-up of everything and reverting to the system in place before they came into power – that then cost even more. What concerns me is that many of the people who were trodden down by the Tories under the Thatcher government must have voted for the present crowd or they would not be in government. I actually know someone who was affected and still intends to vote Tory because she, quote: “does not like Corbyn”. What chance for any semblance of democracy in a country that lets the Tory press do it’s thinking? It’s all very sad.

    Disabled man takes government to court over benefit test
    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/dec/13/disabled-man-government-court-benefit-test

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah well. Am not as well off as I was this time last year. But at least I managed to get an awful PIP decision overturned somewhat. With help from people who work with me on a regular basis. Had it not been for these people. I’d very likely be homeless or worse.

    The whole system is just a mess. I don’t really remember what benefits I got when Thatcher was in power because my late mother did all of it. She was my appointee for years until she passed away and I wound up coping on my own with support from my sister when needed.

    I think when I got the lifetime award of DLA I was on for both Care and Travel. Major was in power. Because my late mother had to reapply for DLA due to the fact that I’d been in a residential college for 3 years and because of that I could not claim DLA. Same rule if you are in a hospital for any amount of time.

    A lot of people I know in the Autism community much like myself have been transferred off of a lifetime award of DLA to PIP, but have had to fight for it due to being turned down for PIP at the initial stage. A friend of mine who has a family is going through the mandatory reconsideration process at the moment. Hopefully, he is successful because he has a wife and kids to consider.

    Hopefully, things will change for the better. There are certainly more than enough people out there protesting and lobbying for it to be looked at more fairly. I was at an Autism Partnership meeting last week where a DWP PIP Decision Maker was taken to task. So there are people out there fighting their corner.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think that things will change until we have a change of government. TheTories have spent the last 8 years denying their ‘reforms’ have created any problems. They deny that they have systematically violated the human rights of disabled persons, despite the evidence presented to them by disabled people, campaigning groups, charities, research academics, select committees, the United Nations and the opposition parties. The denial means that the government have no intention of making any change to the current system, regardless of the human cost. Yes, there are enough people out there lobbying, campaigning, protesting, and writers like me who have spent the past 6 or 7 years trying to raise public awareness, contributing evidence to the UN inquiry and other inquiries, contributing to Labour’s disability policy and so on. But in real terms, the government has barely budged on this.

      We have to vote them out the next chance we get. Enough is enough

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Sorry to hear about your experience, and that you had to fight for what you should have been given at assessment. In fact a lifeltime award of DLA should mean a continuation of that when you are transfered to PIP. This government is heartless in putting people through this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kitty,

        I got the PIP Award for five years. I was going to appeal the travel part, which I should get. But there is only so much fighting you can do and you kind of have to choose your battles. So instead we managed to secure me a concessionary bus pass, which seems to be working out well for me.

        But yes. I’d agree that I should have been given the lifetime award. It’s not like my autistic spectrum condition is going to go away overnight. And were it not for me accessing the services and help that I do use. I’d likely be a lot worse off than I am.

        Always vote labor and positively whooped when they pushed the tories out of Trafford. Hopefully, we start seeing some positive changes because of that. At least insofar as positive changes can be made.

        Liked by 1 person

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