Plea for disabled support analysis


Disabled people will lose a total of £28 billion in support by 2018 as a result of welfare cuts coming into effect next week, according to research.

And thousands will be hit by as many as six cuts at the same time, losing up to £4,600 a household annually, according to the analysis by think tank Demos for disability charity Scope.

Demos urged the Government to make its own assessment of the cumulative impact of 13 changes to benefits including disability living allowance, employment and support allowance, housing benefit and welfare deductions for social housing tenants deemed to have a spare room.

According to Demos, a total of 3.7 million disabled people will be affected by the cuts taking effect on April 1, with an estimated 3,000 people hit by six separate cuts and 12,500 by five.

The think tank's deputy director Claudia Wood said: "While striking, these calculations will invariably be an underestimate of the true impact of the cuts - as we opted for the most conservative estimates on the more unknown elements of reform.

"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, so we're asking the Government to change tack, and start to publish cumulative impact assessments."

Scope chief executive Richard Hawkes said: "At the moment there's no place for disabled people in the Chancellor's aspiration nation. In 2013, disabled people are already struggling to pay the bills. Living costs are spiralling. Income is flat-lining. We know many are getting in debt, just to pay for essentials.

"What's the Government's response? The same group of disabled people face not just one or two cuts to their support, but in some cases three, four, five or even six cuts."

But a spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "There's a lot of misleading stories about the impact of our welfare reforms on disabled people, which could lead to unnecessary scaremongering. The truth is this Government is absolutely committed to supporting disabled people and we continue to spend around £50 billion a year on disabled people and their services.

"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."

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