Tell us about your experience of claiming disability benefits

The Disability Benefits Consortium of over 80 charities and organisations has launched its 2017 Big Benefits Survey, which aims to better understand disabled people’s experience of applying for and claiming disability benefits.

Take the Big Benefits Survey here 

We know that disabled people often struggle to get the financial support they need. We want to hear from as many disabled people as possible so we can understand what is and isn’t working well.

The survey asks about claimants’ experiences of the benefits system, particularly Employment and Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payment. Responses will be kept anonymous, unless respondees offer to be contacted further.

The anonymous evidence provided will help us to campaign for a fairer benefits system for all disabled people. Anyone who has supported individuals to apply for these benefits is welcome to fill it in of their behalf.

Chancellor fails to address disabled people’s concerns on benefit cuts

23rd November 2016

The DBC is disappointed that the Chancellor has failed to use the Autumn Statement today as an opportunity to act on cross party opposition and widespread concerns from disabled people and charities to halt damaging cuts to support for disabled people.

The Government is continuing with a cut to the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and the Universal Credit (UC) equivalent.

From April 2017, new claimants will face a loss of almost £30 a week. Cuts to the ‘work allowance’ – the amount of money disabled people on UC can keep before they lose benefits, are also going ahead. These changes will push disabled people further from the work place and closer to or deeper into poverty.

In addition nothing has been said on the proposals to ask local authorities to fund the support currently provided by Attendance Allowance (AA) from their business rates for future claimants. This is very worrying as it is likely to lead to reductions in the amount of support people who receive AA get.

While the Chancellor has lowered the ‘taper’ rate within UC for those in work from 65% to 63%, (meaning people in work will keep an additional 2 pence for every pound over the work allowance they earn) this will come as scant consolation for the thousands of disabled people who will be much worse off

MPs vote to postpone cuts to Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit

17th November 2016

We are delighted to see that MPs from across all political parties have listened to concerns of disabled people and charities and voted to postpone the £30 weekly cuts to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit in today’s backbench business debate in the Commons.

The vote to postpone the cuts was won 127 votes to 0 and, while not binding on the Government, the strength of feeling to reverse these cuts in the Autumn Statement is overwhelming.

For over a year the Disability Benefits Consortium together with MPs from across all partieshave been warning of the disastrous effects that a cut to ESA for new claimants in the Work Related Activity Group and the equivalent benefit in Universal Credit (due to come in April next year) would have on the lives of disabled people. We firmly believe it would push them further from work and closer to, or deeper into, poverty. We hope the Government listens to these calls and acts swiftly to allay worries among disabled people.

Open letter to Government on second chance to stop ESA cuts

17th November 2016

Ahead of today’s debate in the House of Commons on cuts to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit, over 70 members of the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) have signed an open letter (below) to the Government, warning of the devastating effects the cuts would have on people with a disability and urging MPs to take this debate as an opportunity to re-assess the cuts.

“Dear Secretary of State for Work and Pensions,

“With today’s debate MPs have been given a rare second chance to speak out against £30 a week being taken away from sick and disabled people. The £30-a-week cut to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit has caused deep unease amongst MPs from all parties. We believe this cut will undermine the Government’s welcome commitment to halve the disability employment gap set out in the Green Paper published just last month.

“The Government recently committed to protecting disabled people’s benefits from further cuts, but have decided to continue with this damaging cut to new claimants in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG) of ESA and within Universal Credit (UC). From April 2017 this cut will affect many people found currently ‘unfit for work’ but will also affect many disabled people in work and on low wages under UC.

“The Government promised further support would be given to disabled people in the WRAG to find work, however the recent Green Paper offers little detail as to where this would come from or how it will mitigate the effects of the cut.

“Almost 70% of sick and disabled people we surveyed say this cut would cause their health to suffer and just under half said they would probably not be able to return to work as quickly. We urge MPs from all parties to act – at a time when 1 in 3 households with a disabled member are living in poverty – and halt this cut immediately.”

Signed:

  1. Action for Blind People
  2. Action Duchenne
  3. Action for M.E.
  4. Action on Hearing Loss
  5. Advice UK
  6. Advocard
  7. Age UK
  8. Ambitious about Autism
  9. Arthritis Care
  10. Arthritis Research UK
  11. Aspire
  12. British Lung Foundation
  13. Capability Scotland
  14. Carers UK
  15. Child Poverty Action Group
  16. CLIC Sargent
  17. Contact a Family
  18. Council for Disabled Children
  19. Crohn’s and Colitis UK
  20. Cystic Fibrosis Trust
  21. Deafblind UK
  22. Dimensions UK
  23. Disability Agenda Scotland
  24. Disability Rights UK
  25. Down’s Syndrome Association
  26. ENABLE Scotland
  27. Epilepsy Society
  28. Epilepsy Action
  29. Equalities National Council
  30. Guide Dogs
  31. Haemophilia Society
  32. Hafal
  33. Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE)
  34. Inclusion London
  35. LASA
  36. Leonard Cheshire Disability
  37. Livability
  38. Mind
  39. Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association
  40. MS Society
  41. Muscular Dystrophy UK
  42. Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) Trust
  43. Myeloma UK
  44. National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society
  45. National AIDS Trust
  46. National Autistic Society (NAS)
  47. National Children’s Bureau
  48. National Deaf Children’s Society
  49. National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society
  50. Niamh
  51. Papworth Trust
  52. Parkinson’s UK
  53. Rethink Mental Illness
  54. Royal British Legion
  55. Royal College of Psychiatrists
  56. Royal Mencap Society
  57. Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)
  58. RSI Action
  59. Scope
  60. Scottish Association for Mental Health
  61. Spina bifida Hydrocephalus Information Networking Equality (SHINE)
  62. Sense
  63. Sense Scotland
  64. St Joseph’s Hospice
  65. The Stroke Association
  66. Sue Ryder
  67. Terrence Higgins Trust
  68. Thomas Pocklington Trust
  69. Together For Short Lives
  70. Transport for All
  71. TUC
  72. Vitalise
  73. Zacchaeus 2000 Trust

About the letter

The cuts to the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG) of ESA and the equivalent in Universal Credit will undermine the Government’s commitment to halving the disability employment gap, which was outlined in the recent Green Paper on Work and Health.

The Government has however suggested that people with disabilities and long-term health conditions who get this benefit are not being incentivised to find work because of the £30-a-week more they get compared to those on Job Seeker’s Allowance.

However, the DBC strongly disputes this claim and a survey of over 500 disabled people found this to be completely false:

  • Almost 7 in 10 (69%) say cuts to ESA will cause their health to suffer
  • More than a quarter (28%) say they sometimes can’t afford to eat on the current amount they receive from ESA
  • Almost half (45%) of respondents say that the cut would probably mean they would return to work later
  • Just 1% said the cut would motivate them to get a job sooner

Disabled campaigners were in Parliament on yesterday meeting their MPs to raise concerns. Pictures of this can be found on twitter under #esacuts as will commentary on today’s debate.

Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) responds to Government withdrawal of changes to PIP

The Government have announced that they will not be proceeding with proposed changes to Personal Independence Payment (PIP). These changes would have reduced the points available for reliance on an aid or appliance for managing continence and dressing and undressing from 2 to 1 and were expected to save £4.4bn over the course of the Parliament. This would have meant that many disabled people would have no longer qualified for the standard or enhanced rate of the Daily Living component of PIP. The Government estimated 640,000 people would have been impacted.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, the new Secretary of State, Stephen Crabb, also confirmed that there were ‘no further plans’ for spending cuts to welfare beyond those legislated for by the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.

He invited disabled people and their representatives to have a ‘new conversation’ with him about support for disabled people.

Laura Wetherly, Co-Chair of the DBC said:

‘‘We are very pleased the Government has chosen not to proceed with damaging changes to Personal Independence Payment (PIP). This will be reassuring news for the thousands of disabled people who will hopefully now continue to receive the vital support they need to live independently and participate in society.

“The DBC hopes the Secretary of State, Stephen Crabb’s ‘new conversation’ will mean engagement with our members and disabled people as a priority. We urge the Government to use this as an opportunity to ensure all their policies work for disabled people and carers to provide them with the support they need.

“It is welcome that the Government currently has no plans to make further savings from welfare. We hope this commitment will be honoured and that access to support for disabled people will be protected.”

Disability Benefits Consortium responds to Budget 2016

Responding to today’s Budget announcement that Government will reduce the points awarded to aids and appliances for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in the areas of continence and dressing and undressing, Phil Reynolds, Policy and Campaigns Advisor at Parkinson’s UK and Disability Benefits Consortium Co-Chair said:

 ‘Disabled people will be deeply disappointed and worried by the Chancellor’s decision to weaken the support provided by Personal Independence Payment, making it even more difficult to claim.

People who rely on aids and appliances to help them achieve daily activities like dressing themselves, or to avoid an episode of incontinence clearly need financial support to help them maintain their independence and participate in society.

These changes could have harmful consequences for the health and independence of the 640,000 affected disabled people, and significant cost implications for the NHS and local authority social care services as a result.

The prospect of further reform will add to the concerns of disabled people about the support they will be able to receive. Any future changes must do much more to improve access to support for disabled people, rather than chiselling it away.’

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is a national coalition of over 60 different charities and other organisations committed to working towards a fair benefits system.

Using our combined knowledge, experience and direct contact with disabled individuals and carers, we seek to ensure Government policy reflects and meets the needs of all disabled people.

For further information, please contact Policy Group Co-Chairs Phil Reynolds at preynolds[at]parkinsons.org.uk or Laura Wetherly at laura.wetherly[at]mssociety.org.uk

DBC Briefing for final Ping Pong debate in the Lords on ESA WRAG cut

This briefing supports the Welfare Reform and Work Bill debate in the Lords (Monday 7th March 2016). It covers the final ‘Ping Pong’ debate. This is where the Bill ‘ping pongs’ between the Commons and Lords while they agree amendments.

It focuses on the cut to Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit by £30 a week for many new claimants from April 2017.

The DBC is opposed to the cut on account of the impact it will have a detrimental impact on disabled people’s finances, their health as well as ability to move towards work.

MPs have however voted the cut through and the briefing focuses on areas that Peers might want to push with the Minister.

DBC briefing Welfare Reform Bill – Consideration of Commons Amendments Ping Pong 07.03.2016