Published on 27 Mar 2013 Sections

Disabled people ‘hit by multiple benefit cuts’

Hundreds of thousands of disabled people will be worse off as a result of six different benefit cuts, according to Scope.

Hundreds of thousands of disabled people will be worse off as a result of six different benefit cuts, according to Scope (Getty)

The charity says the government’s welfare reforms will lead to up to 3.7 million disabled people losing a total of £28.3bn by 2018.

A study carried out by the think tank Demos for Scope looks at cuts to disability living allowance (DLA), employment and support allowance (ESA), housing benefit and the so-called “bedroom tax“.

It reaches the conclusion that the changes, which come into effect in April, will hit “the same group of disabled people over and over again”.

Scope Chief Executive Richard Hawkes told Channel 4 News: “It’s a bleak picture. It seems incredible that just a little over six months ago we were talking about the Paralympics having changed the way we see disability. What’s happened?

“The Paralympics were a breakthrough moment. Disability had never been so visible, so talked about.

“At the moment it’s not the done thing to say the state needs to spend money. But if we want to live in a country where disabled people can pay the bills, can live independently in the community, where they can work, have relationships and ultimately be visible then that’s exactly what needs to happen.”

‘Triple whammy’

The research suggests that 26,000 people face a “triple whammy” of having their ESA capped at 1 per cent before losing their ESA and DLA – costing them up to £4,600 a year.

It’s a bleak picture. It seems incredible that just a little over six months ago we were talking about the Paralympics having changed the way we see disability. What’s happened? Richard Hawkes, Scope

It says 3,000 people will be hit by six different cuts, losing £23,300 by 2018.

Demos Deputy Director Claudia Wood, lead researcher on the project, said disabled people were “bearing the brunt” of the government’s welfare cuts.

She added: “What’s shocking is that the government doesn’t assess the likely combined impact of these changes, only the impact of each change individually.

“However, many disabled families are being affected by combinations of four, five and even six changes …. “

‘Scaremongering’

A DWP spokesperson said: “There’s a lot of misleading stories about the impact of our welfare reforms on disabled people, which could lead to unnecessary scaremongering.

“Our reforms will make sure the billions we spend every year give more targeted support and better reflect today’s understanding of disability.

“Hundreds of thousands of disabled adults and children will actually receive more support than now with the combined effect of benefit changes under universal credit.”