Disabled claimants have had their benefits cut by an average of £1,200 a year because of a series of changes introduced since 2008, a report by the Disability Benefits Consortium released today claims. Households with a disabled adult and a disabled child have lost an average of £4,300.
The report, ‘Has welfare become unfair – the impact of changes on disabled people’ argues that whilst most claimants have lost out on £300 a year in benefits, the effects on disabled claimants has been much more dramatic.
According to the researchers:
“The more disabilities you have the more you lose out, for example someone who has six or more disabilities loses over £2,100 each year on average, whereas someone with one disability loses around £700 each year.”
“Households with one disabled adult and one disabled child lose out the most, with average losses of over £4,300 per year.”
The cuts have come about because of a whole raft of changes introduced over the last decade, including:
- Move from incapacity benefit to employment and support allowance
- Time-limiting of contributory ESA
- Abolition of work-related activity group for new ESA claims
- Move from disability living allowance to personal independence payment
- Benefit freeze
- Rollout of universal credit
The report estimates that the cuts to benefits will amount to £38 billlion by 2022-23.
Although households with at least one disabled person make up less than a third of the population they will have suffered almost two thirds of the cuts.
The reports authors argue that:
“These changes have had a devastating impact on disabled people. Financial security for the majority of disabled people has all but vanished. Disabled people have been left living in poverty and isolation as a result.”
“This has created an environment that is difficult and unforgiving for disabled people. Those with the
greatest needs, who are most vulnerable and with the fewest financial and social resources, are left to navigate a complex, stressful process. It’s a process that ultimately leaves them with their health worse and with less financial support.”
The report calls for a long list of changes to the current system, including:
- Ending the benefit freeze
- Restoring ESA/UC work-related activity component
- Introducing a disability element to Universal Credit to replace the disability premiums that have been cut from the system.
- Removing the benefit cap for everyone who receives a disability-related benefit