DAA News Network

UK: Disabled people among worst effected by cuts

Posted 28/10-10 at 23.07

As predicted over the last weeks, the final announcement of where the budget cuts will fall is bad news for disabled people.

Employment support allowance (ESA), which replaced incapacity benefit, supports people who are unable to work because of ill health or disability, has been limited to one year. At the moment, there is no time limit.

After one year, people with assets, savings or partners who work will no longer receive benefits. Those with no assets may be able to qualify for a means-tested safety net.

A 25% cut in money for local councils over 4 years will mean a reduction in care services for disabled people and their families, leaving some families without vital support. Increased charges for services are likely further to increase disability poverty for a group of people who are already most likely to be poor.

For example, in Norfolk, the council proposes to provide care only to those considered in ‘critical need', reduce the scale and capacity of services for people with sensory impairments, learning difficulties and mental health problems, increase charges and slash spending on a wide range of preventive services.

Jaspal Dhani, UKDPC Chief Executive says, "We remain concerned at the impact the announced cuts will have on the ability of disabled people to live independently, to be included in their communities and to exercise their civil liberties."

This concern is backed up by Norfolk's own initial high-level impact assessment. Here it was found that the impact, "...may limit disabled and older people's independence and resources, and affect their quality of life and mobility across the county. It may restrict their access to the built environment, public transport and leisure activities. It may increase their vulnerability to loneliness and social isolation, and place greater responsibilities of care on their families, friends and colleagues."

The 380,000 disabled people living in care homes will also be worse off, as the mobility component in disability living allowance is to be cut.

This is the money that helps disabled people get to the shops or visit their families. With no mobility funding, disabled people with no family or friends nearby will in effect become prisoners in their care homes, unable to get out at all.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/oct/20/spending-review-disabled-people

http://www.norfolk.gov.uk/Council_and_democracy/Have_your_say/Norfolks_big_conversation/index.htm

http://www.ukdpc.net/index.asp?GetPress=TRUE&id=123&sid=76&ssid=0&sssid=0

Editorial comment: Added to the cuts in benefits and care mentioned above, it must be noted that other services and benefits that disabled people rely on are also being cut back. For example:

Access to Work: This provides crucial support for disabled people in employment. Although what is happening is still anecdotal, it seems that money has been frozen. If true, this would undermine the government's stated aim of getting disabled people into real jobs.
The Independent Living Fund: Set up, ‘... to enable disabled people to live independent lives in their community rather than in residential care.' The Fund is not accepting new applications. Information, advice and advocacy services. These are always in demand and needed now more than ever, but they face severe cuts as councils have no statutory obligation to fund them.
Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs): Many DPOs have already disappeared and more will surely go with councils either slashing grants or making contracts to provide disability services with large national companies who have a substantial comparative business advantage over local-based, user-led DPOs.
Disability Living Allowance: This benefit was designed to cover the additional cost of coping with impairments. A new tougher, and some say unfair, assessment system has been brought in to reduce expenditure. Although the government says this is to counter fraud, in fact the Department for Work and Pensions estimate that fraud accounts for only 0.5% of spending.

There are a few changes which are more positive. Among these, It seems disabled facilities grants will rise with inflation, the cap on housing benefits will not be applied to disabled people and council housing finance will be reformed to generate money to support adaptations to make properties more accessible.

Nonetheless, overall the prospect is extremely bleak for disabled people, with many of the gains we have made, especially with respect to real independent living, set to be fiercely rolled back. We clearly have an extremely tough battle on our hands over the next five years.

Comments:

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Comment added 16/1-11 at 04.13 by: author (simonsmith1@yahoo.com)

Please note that Disabled people who currently hve the following needs, an are not deemed to hae their lives at risk will have their right to care services taken away:

Here's a list of the criteria defining what "substantial" means:

Significant health problems have
developed or will develop.
• There is or will be a serious risk to
the physical safety of self or
others.
• There is, or will be, only partial
choice and control over the
immediate environment.
• Abuse or neglect has occurred or
will occur.
• There is, or will be, an inability to
carry out the majority of personal
care or domestic routines.
• Involvement in many aspects of
work, education or learning
cannot or will not be sustained.
• The majority of social support
systems and relationships cannot
or will not be sustained.
• The majority of family and other
social roles and responsibilities
cannot or will not be undertaken

I thought the Conservatives were only after those people who weren't really disabled and those who were would be better off.

I doubt most conservative voters could not feel shame at these proposals.

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