THE BLOG

It's Time for Government to Stop, Listen and Learn From Opposition to Disability Benefit Cuts

21/03/2016 12:01 GMT | Updated 22/03/2017 09:12 GMT

The aftermath of the Budget, has seen the opposition to disability benefit cuts pick up pace, with a growing consensus from all parties that the Chancellor shouldn't be asking those who can least afford it to make sacrifices.

The news in the budget that the Government plans to move forward with reforms to Personal Independence Payment (PIP), just weeks after cutting ESA, signalled a bleak day for disabled people, who are in danger of losing the financial lifelines designed to help them remain active in the community.

The reality is that is does cost significantly more to live in society as a disabled person and hundreds of thousands rely on PIP funding to preserve their dignity and help them live a full and independent life. Which is why Sense believes it is simply not fair to penalise those who are already financially struggling by expecting them to cover costs they have no choice in.

The Government has set themselves a number of admirable challenges relating to improving opportunities for disabled people, such as halving the disability employment gap, and we'd like to work in partnership to help them achieve these aims. Whilst it is right to pursue a policy area of getting more people into work, by restricting the amount people currently receive under ESA we are actually hindering, rather than helping, disabled people.

Rather than focusing on disability through the narrow prism of isolated support streams, such as benefits, housing, employment or social care, we would like the Government to go further and reframe their thinking around a co-ordinated approach in supporting people with disabilities across all of these areas.

It's time for the Government to listen to the growing concerns from parliamentarians and the public about the fairness of the budget and to halt the progression of PIP reforms.

I believe the debate needs to move towards long-term solutions to increasing life chances, protecting dignity and improving independence for disabled people, and away from short-term expenditure cuts via benefit reductions.