One million disabled people left vulnerable by Autumn Statement

By staff writers
8 Dec 2012

At least one million disabled people are not 'protected' by the autumn budget statement, despite government claims, says Disability Rights UK.

"If you listened to the Autumn Statement and thought you heard ‘disability benefits are protected’ you may wish to know that Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is not protected and will be subject to a one per cent increase for the next three years," the coalition points out.

ESA reaches 991,000 disabled people according to the Department of Work and Pensions. The latest DWP report also lists the impact of some of the health conditions and impairments ESA covers, including people with tumours and people receiving inpatient treatment in hospital.

In a statement on its website following the chancellor's announcement to parliament earlier this week, Disability Rights UK said: "Disabled people are more likely to be in receipt of a range of other support that will also be affected by low up-rating due to a higher unemployment rate (around half working age disabled people are out of work), and even in work disabled people earn less than non-disabled colleagues.

"Also, social care will not be receiving investment in this Parliamentary term (to 2015) it seems – despite the recognised shortfall in council coffers to meet rising demand from an ageing population and growing numbers of disabled people.

"The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services estimates a £1 billion cut in this financial year for social services alone – and a rise in charges imposed on disabled people for accessing essential support with washing and eating for example.

"More disabled people will be losing help as a result of the failure to resolve the ‘care crisis’ and even more will be impoverished through paying for basic assistance."

In addition, recent government actions have included the closure of 54 Remploy factories, with the loss of more than 1,700 jobs; the abolition of the equality impact assessments that require public authorities to take into account the impact of their decisions on disabled people; and the closure of Independent Living Funds to new applicants from 2010, which leaves current beneficiaries to cash-strapped local authorities from 2015.

The ILF was created to protect the most disadvantaged disabled people from the last set of Conservative benefit cuts, in 1988, points out Richard Exell of the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

* DWP figures for ESA: http://83.244.183.180/100pc/esa/icdgp/age/a_carate_r_icdgp_c_age_feb12.html

* The kinds of impairments covered by ESA are listed here: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/workingage/esa_wca/esa_wca_27042011.pdf

* Disability Rights UK: http://disabilityrightsuk.org

* The cuts 'tipping point' for disabled people: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17560

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