The cumulative impact of austerity measures on disabled people

The cumulative impact of
austerity measures on disabled
Philip J Connolly
Policy and Communications Manager
Disability Rights UK
Cuts from four directions
• Housing cuts e.g. bedroom tax
• Income cuts e.g. moving from RPI to CPI index
linked benefits
• Social Care cuts e.g. reduced eligibility against
FACS criteria
• Public service cuts e.g. extent of
disproportionate impact of loss of day care
centres etc
An example of the journey into
• Inappropriately found fit for work following a WCA – 37% of all
decisions have been appealed with 23% of these being found in
favour of the appellant – DWP data 22/1/14 tables 3 and 4
• Moved from IB to JSA with loss of between a third and a quarter of
• Failure to be offered effective employment support – only 2% of ex
IB / ESA people are obtaining work after one year on the Work
Programme – data DWP December 2013 – even this masks worse
performances for some impairment groups
• If placed in the Work Related Activity Group loss of contributory ESA
after 12 months
• Sanctioned whilst on JSA - of 3 levels, disabled people account for 1
in 5 to 1 in 7 of those sanctioned, some 116,909 sanction decisions
in total – data DWP, 20/2/14
• Sanctioned whilst on ESA – 15,276 adverse decisions against
disabled people between Dec 2012 and Sept 2013 – data DWP,
• Difficulty in obtaining credit – disabled people are three times more
likely to draw on doorstep loans and a half use credit cards or loans
to pay for everyday items – Scope, July 2013
• Difficulty in obtaining advocacy or advice – Low Commission, 2014
Some examples of specific issues
Work Capability Assessment for Employment
Support Allowance
• No evidence that criteria (descriptors) make a difference to prospect
of work
• No concept of what work people with many impairments are being
found fit for e.g. blind people
• Activities of daily living and observed behaviour tests include many
irrelevant indicators of capability for work e.g. running a bath
• No consideration of previous work record, educational attainment or
availability of jobs or whether employer has instigated reasonable
• No direct linkage between assessment and provision of support to
obtain work
• Four independent reviews but no evaluation of these criticisms or
rationale for the descriptors to date, except for cancer patients
Some issues in back to work
• Money - The DWP discussion paper of 17/12/13 stated that the
budget for back to work support for disabled people was some £350
million but also noted that there are some 3.6 million economically
inactive disabled people – about £100 per person.
• Questionable value for money – the prime sub contracting delivery
mechanism means that primes borrow money from financial markets
against future job outcomes, pay interest on this and then recoup it
from management fees. This system means that public money is
lost to shareholder dividend and investors leading to reductions in
the value that disabled customers can attract such that there is
insufficient money to attract the employment support that will make a
difference to their job prospects
• Black box approach – the client is comparatively well informed
regarding conditionality (understanding?) but poorly informed of the
support on offer leading to little faith in their own success
• Lack of customer choice – no one can currently choose their
provider of support
• Access to Work – revision of rules appears to be making the support
harder to obtain especially for those with an hearing impairment/
fluctuating condition
Failure to be attached to a
specialist provider
• “All of her Providers have, in my opinion, done the barest
minimum required of their contacts and just, it would
appear, gone through the motions. I feel she has been
'parked' for some time. I think you may be familiar with
this term. Every time I have complained that my sister
needs a more one to one, structured and interventionist
approach to finding work, (particularly, when she
entered, in September 2013, her fourth year of being
unemployed), I have either been shouted down, ignored
or told nobody else has complained so what is your
problem; and, when I have complained (after giving the
Providers the benefit of the doubt and a good 6 to 12
months lead-time to help my sister), they have, rather
conveniently it would appear, dropped my sister as one
of their clients”. Deborah Shepherd, email 20/2/14
Available analysis of cumulative
• “Counting the Cuts” Simon Duffy, 2014
• Citizen Advice Bureau, quarterly trend
• Government departmental data
The Centre for Welfare Reform,
Centre for Welfare Reform, 2014
Consequences for everyday living
• Energy- - There are 835,000 fuel poor households containing
someone with a long term illness or disability, DfE.&C.C.2011
• Debt - In 2010/11, C.A.B. provided advice to more than 72,000
disabled people with debt problems, in September 2013, CAB’s
quarterly report noted that rent arrears to social landlords continue
to rise and one third of landlord clients advised on
possession/eviction were disabled or had a long term health
• Food - In July of 2013, research by Papworth Trust noted that nine
out of ten disabled people were being forced to cut back on food or
paying household bills after being refused emergency housing
payments to help them pay the bedroom tax
• A Disability Benefit Consortium survey quoted in the Times
(17/12/13) found that 12% of disabled people were making use of
food banks
Consequences for hope
• “I'm sure you'll have no shortage of responses. I hope, though, that
the debate will also emphasise the wider impact on disabled people
of the uncertainty and anxiety that the policies are causing. I have in
mind the attempt to abolish the Independent Living Fund and the
consequent legal battle. We await the Government's next move on
this particular issue, but the proposed abolition of the ILF was taken
forward despite the 2012 report by the Joint Committee on Human
Rights that "reforms to benefits and services risk leaving disabled
people without the right to live independently". The JCHR reported
that the closure of the ILF, changes in local authority care criteria,
the replacement of DLA by PIP and changes to housing benefit
risked interacting in a particularly harmful way for disabled people.
The JCHR pointed out that some people feared that the cumulative
impact of these changes would force them out of their homes and
local communities and into residential care.”
• Email from Ward Griffiths, parent of a disabled person, 20/2/14
Some thoughts on what is missing
• Recognition that the cuts are cumulative and damaging to both
individual independence and their interdependence within a socially
cohesive society
• An employment support plan for the six in every seven who at any
one time are not in the back to work system
• Investment in peer to peer support for all especially those not in
• Choice and control in obtaining personalised employment support
Real lives – what our members tell
As a housebound, mainly bedbound chronically ill woman aged 54, I can confirm that
these cuts have been devastating.
Not only to me, but to so many of my disabled friends. Trying to exist on extremely
low income, with no hope of moving out of poverty, and living in constant pain, we are
heroes to actually survive this atrocity.
The bedroom tax has pushed us into poverty. We go without food and heating and
have no hope. Life is incredibly hard. We need to use food banks.
Incredibly strict, and unfair changes, to ESA and to DLA/PIP have led to much
hardship and made us more ill.
The extra costs that come with disability and chronic illness are being totally
disregarded by this Government.
JOAN. Ruislip. Middlesex.
Supporting disabled people in your
Disability Rights UK
12 City Forum
250 City Road
0207 250 3222
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