The Hardest Hit campaign, a coalition of over 90 organisations representing disabled people, has cautiously welcomed the government’s decision to raise disability benefits in line with inflation, but warns cuts to other benefits could have a devastating affect on disabled people.
The Government has announced that out of work benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseekers Allowance will only be up-rated by 1% over the next three years.
This has come at a time when the government’s Work Programme is failing to help disabled people back into work. Last week we learnt that only 1,000 disabled people out of the 79,000 referred to the flagship scheme have secured a job outcome that sees them employed for six months or longer.
The decision to only up-rate ESA for people in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) by 1% will represent a significant cash loss for thousands of disabled people who rely on this money to live their daily lives. Further below-inflation rises to a range of other benefits such as housing benefit and working tax credits were also announced and will have a significant impact on disabled people.
Steve Winyard, spokesperson for the Hardest Hit coalition, said:
”We welcome the decision to raise disability benefits in line with inflation, but this isn’t the be all and end all for disabled people. Thousands rely on benefits like ESA and Housing Benefit to live their daily lives. The decision to break the link with inflation for these benefits will result in a cash loss that is set to get worse over time.
“Disabled people are already twice as likely to be living in poverty and a cash loss of this kind will represent a serious threat to independence and a major compromise on quality of life. We estimate a typical disabled person in the ESA WRAG will be £180 worse off over the next three years than would have otherwise been the case had this benefit increased by 2.2 per cent.
“The1.3 % portion of ESA claimants securing work through the Work Programme is a risible return and reflects not a desire on the other 98.7 per cent of claimants’ to stay in bed, as the Chancellor appeared to suggests, but huge inefficiency in Work Programme contracts and ongoing barriers to work for disabled people.”
Notes to Editors
The Hardest Hit coalition brings together the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) and the UK Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC).
For more information contact Emma Mercer, PR Officer, RNIB on 0207 391 2223.
Case studies, spokespeople and audio visual materials are available on request.
The survey of 4,500 disabled people was commissioned by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) in the summer of 2012. The survey asked disabled people about their experiences of the benefits system and concerns about future proposed changes to the welfare system. A survey of more than 350 independent welfare advisors was also commissioned by the DBC. The Hardest Hit coalition also carried out in-depth interviews with more than 50 disabled people and this explored the ways in which people who receive Disability Living Allowance and other key benefits use their money to support themselves in daily life.
Nearly 9 in 10 (87 per cent) of the 4,500 disabled people DBC surveyed said their everyday living costs are significantly higher because of their condition.
The Office for Disability Issues’ Life Opportunities Survey revealed nearly twice as many households with a disabled member experience “great difficulty” in “usually making ends meet” compared with the general population.
This and other key facts and case studies were contained in the Hardest Hit coalition’s October 2012 report, ‘The Tipping Point’.
A copy of the full report is available on request.
The following benefits, tax credits and payments will be up-rated by 1 per cent for 3 years from 2013-14:
• The main elements of Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support, applicable amounts for Housing Benefit;
• Maternity Allowance, Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay; and
• The couple and lone parent elements of Working Tax Credit (WTC), and the child element of Child Tax Credit. The basic and 30 hour elements will be frozen in 2013-14 as previously announced, and will be uprated by 1 per cent in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
It will not apply to the premia within these benefits relating to disability, pensioners, and caring responsibilities, the support group component of ESA, or the disability elements in tax credits, which will be uprated as usual.
The cost base
Exchequer impact (£m)
 For claimants in the Work Related Activity Group.