Disabled people’s organisations and charities have argued that disabled people are shouldering a massively unequal share of the burden of cuts and ‘reforms’ to the Welfare State.
They have called for the government to test this argument by carrying out a cumulative impact assessment that would take into account all the changes brought in by the Welfare Reform Act, as well as reductions in funding for local councils, the NHS, cuts to cash benefits, caps on housing benefit and such things as the closure of the Independent Living Fund.
The government has refused to do this, claiming it is too complex.
The real reason is revealed starkly in a new report commissioned by the Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People (NCODP).
Disabled people and their families are being unfairly targeted in what amounts to collective punishment – prohibited under the 1949 Geneva Conventions – for a financial and economic crisis not of their making.
“The Austerity War and the impoverishment of disabled people”, an in-depth study carried out by Chris Edwards, an economist and senior research associate at the University of East Anglia, finds that over four years to 2015 the poorest 20% of the 2.7 million households receiving disability benefits will lose 16% of their cash income plus benefits-in-kind. This percentage loss is four times as big as the loss for the richest 20% of households.
NCODP CEO Mark Harrison said:
“This is the comprehensive impact assessment the Government should have carried out. No wonder they have refused to do it as it shows just how regressive and discriminatory their policies are to disabled people
The spectators at the Paralympics gave their verdict on George Osbourne. The British public can see the injustice of attacking disabled people in this way. ”
The report focuses not only on the fact that disabled people and their families are being punished and cast as welfare scroungers –
“In the Great Depression of the 1930s, it took five years for national output to get back to pre-recession levels. The Coalition Government is mismanaging an economy where national output is likely to take eight years to get back to the level of 2007.”
The collateral damage brought about … will be an increase in impoverishment, an undermining of the ability of disabled people to live independent, dignified lives and role back the advances in human rights won by disabled people over the last decades.
“The Government should listen to Dame Tanni and the other Paralympians and abandon the austerity measures and the welfare reforms. The hypocrisy of Government ministers trying to gain reflected glory from the Paralympic athletes’ achievements is sickening”
“ATOS’s sponsorship of the Paralympics is like cigarette companies sponsoring cancer charities. ATOS are not the problem they are willing agents of Government policy. They are like mercenaries profiteering from the misery of disabled people”
Govt plans more attacks on benefits
The government plans to take £71 a week from ESA claimants if they fail to take steps to get back into the workplace.
A leaked draft of a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) template letter warns sick and disabled claimants they will lose 70% of their weekly employment support allowance (ESA) if they refuse to take part in work-related activities, more than doubling the current fine.
There is no information on safegaurds for disabled people who are unable to take part in work related activity because of a flare up in their condition.
There is no information on safegaurds for terminally ill people who have wrongly been found fit for work.