Whilst the DWP continues to insist that a cumulative impact assessment on the effects of welfare reforms is not possible, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is today publishing a report by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) and Landman Economics which shows the progress they have made in developing a model for just such a report.  It's initial findings include the fact that families with at least one disabled person - especially a child - are being particularly hard hit.{jcomments on}

Last week, Lord Freud refused to follow the Social Security Advisory Committee's recommendation that the DWP should carry out an impact assessment.  His excuse was that the treasury already produces analysis of the impact of welfare changes, but that:

"Unfortunately it is not possible to break those results down to smaller groups of the population accurately.  In particular, the amount of information on families required to do this accurately would be prohibitive; and we do not consider the results can be reliably disagregated for disabled people, a view shared by the authoritative Institute for Fiscal Studies."

More tellingly, perhaps, Freud gave another reason for not wanting to do an assessment:

"More generally, we believe that cumulative impact analysis should be treated with some caution, as it will be based upon a comparison with the previous Government's policies, which were unaffordable."

In other words, the DWP is very keen that people don't learn just how much disabled people's benefits are being cut by.

The NIESR report, however, demonstrates that it is possible to develop an effective cumulative impact assessment, although it acknowledges further work is required to improve it.

Initial findings based on their model include the fact that:

"The impacts of tax and welfare reforms are more negative for families containing at least one disabled person, particularly a disabled child, and that these negative impacts are particularly strong for low income families. This is not surprising, given the significant reductions to working-age welfare, and the high proportion of working age welfare spent on disabled people, particularly those on low incomes."

You can download the NICE report from this page.

You can download Lord Freud's letter from this page.


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