DLA reforms will push most vulnerable into “poverty”
The plans to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will leave half a million people isolated and into poverty, a new report has claimed.
The Hardest Hit, a coalition of 90 organisations representing the disabled argues that changes to the DLA would lead to 500,000 people losing out on the support.
The Government has planned to replace the DLA with personal independence payment in 2013. Currently, the DLA is based on two distinct components: care support which entitles a disabled person to get between £20.55 to £77.45 per week and mobility support which ranges from £20.55 and £54.05 per week.
Whitehall has not yet laid out exactly how the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) scheme would work but it has made it clear that those wanting to receive the new benefits would have to go through a needs assessment process.
Research conducted by The Hardest Hit, a coalition of 90 groups representing the disabled, shows that 65% of disabled people believe they would have to give up work if they lose the DLA support. The study was based on interviews and surveys of DLA recipients and welfare officers.
10% of respondents said that they would have to give up work if their care support was taken away from them and over 75% of those surveyed said that they would have to seek more support from their local council if their allowance is cut.
The Hardest Hit report claims that the coalition government has “failed to consider” the wider implications of replacing the DLA and has overestimated the savings potential. Whitehall claims that replacing the DLA would deliver savings of about £2 billion, but campaigners say it is more like £400,000.
The impact on the UK workforce has not been considered either, the disability charities and campaigners argue. According to the report published today, the changes to DLA could see the UK workforce shrink by 50,400 with an estimated loss of over £293 million for the public purse.
"Cuts to the support they [disabled people] depend upon risk pushing them into poverty, debt and isolation,” Jaspal Dhani, chief executive of the UK Disabled People's Council and co-chair of the Hardest Hit campaign said. "The chancellor has just announced a further £10bn cut to the welfare budget. With £9bn having already been removed from disability benefits and services in this Parliament, disabled people are already at a tipping point.”
But the Government denies the accusations. Esther McVey, Minister for Disabled People said: "Our welfare reforms will ensure the billions we spend better reflect today's understanding of disability and offer the targeted support disabled people need to live independent lives."