THE BLOG

This Budget Will Make Disabled People's Lives Harder

16/03/2016 14:51

Today, the Chancellor confirmed that the Government will be making changes to the disability benefits.

These are going to make many disabled people's lives harder.

New restrictions to the assessment for Personal Independence Payments - the payments which support disabled people to cover the extra costs of disability - are expected to impact 640,000 disabled people. Some might lose their PIP altogether, some might find that their income is reduced.

Our national helpline has received a high number of calls from disabled people who are very worried about their benefits.

Many are anxiously trying to find out what it will mean for them when the changes come into effect in January 2017.

Worries about finances and benefits have always been the biggest area of concern from people contacting us, but we're now recruiting extra staff to deal with the high level of calls.

The Government has announced that it is considering a longer-term review of disability benefits.

It is a very worrying and uncertain time for disabled people, many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet.

Life costs more if you are disabled

Scope research shows that life costs more if you are disabled. Disabled people spend an average of £550 a month on disability related costs - from specialist equipment to higher energy bills.

Half of disabled people say that they have struggled to pay the bills because of the extra costs of disability that they face. One in ten has turned to a cash or pay day loan.

We are in touch with David, a 50 year old disabled man from Doncaster. He spoke to Radio 4 at the weekend about the extra costs that he faces because he is disabled.

He says that he would be in a precarious position without his Personal Independence Payment, as he is constantly purchasing and replacing specialist products, paying for adaptations and electricity, disposable gloves, disinfectant, breathing equipment... the list is endless.

Reducing disabled people's incomes won't incentivise them to find a job
On top of changes to PIP, we were deeply disappointed that last week, the Government pushed ahead with its plans to cut unemployment support for disabled people, despite opposition from the House of Lords and many MPs.

Half a million disabled people will be affected by this proposal, losing around £30 a week.

The Government has made a welcome commitment to halving the disability employment gap, but cutting financial support is not the answer. Reducing disabled people's incomes won't incentivise them to find a job. It will just make life harder.

Disabled people face many barriers when trying to enter the workplace and thrive in their careers. We should be focusing on removing these barriers.

Scope has frequent queries from callers who are struggling to stay in employment with long-term health conditions, or having acquired an impairment.

They are doing their best to maintain their jobs, but are not getting the right support to stay in work. In the worst cases, they may find themselves dismissed on medical grounds.

Three-quarters of disabled people say that they have missed out on a job because of negative employer attitudes to disability. Many workplaces remain inaccessible.

What we need to see is the Government investing in expert, tailored support and encourage employers to create flexible, modern workplaces.

The upcoming White Paper on disability, health and employment is an important opportunity to reform the system and make it work for disabled people.

If you are worried about any of these changes, you can call Scope's Helpline on 0808 800 3333.

Mark Atkinson is the chief executive of disability charity Scope

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