Untrue that benefits cap protects disabled people, critics point out

By staff writers
January 9, 2013

Government claims that disabled people have been protected in the government's Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill are untrue, say critics of the measure.

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the disability charity Scope, commented last night: "This bill doesn’t protect disabled people. In fact, it cuts support for the many disabled people who are looking for work."

He continued: "Disabled people face massive barriers to finding work – a lack of skills and experience, a shortage of flexible work, and attitudes of employers."

"But instead of breaking down barriers, the government adds to them. The fitness for work test is failing, the Work Programme isn't working, and now this," said Mr Hawkes.

"A one per cent increase in Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for the next three years is effectively a cut. This will make it even tougher for disabled people looking for work in this challenging economic environment," he concluded.

"Since the 'emergency Budget' of 2010, £500 million has been taken from the pockets of disabled people," says Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn.

Writing in The Morning Star (8 January 2013), he adds: "The Benefits Uprating Bill does further damage. The employment support allowance cut takes another £87 a year off each claimant.

"This goes hand in hand with the abominable Atos testing system which puts many disabled people through appalling stress as they're told they'll lose their benefits and be forced to go to work, even if they're not in a position to look for a job. Then the applicant appeals and often wins."

The government claims that it is offering compensation to those who lose out, but this is at a level well below the economic hit they will sustain.

The coalition has faced huge criticism from charities, church groups, welfare campaigners and local communities for its continued attack on welfare.

Ahead of a further House of Lords debate about disability and Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) communities on Thursday 10 January, Scope has also issued a new report entitled 'Over-looked Communities, Over-due Change: how services can better support BME disabled people'.

"This 2012 report presents new, wide-ranging evidence about disabled people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds and recommends how policy-makers, local authority commissioners, and service providers can improve BME disabled people’s access to services," says the charity.

* Read and download the full report (*.PDF Adobe Acrobat document): http://www.scope.org.uk/drupal-fm/213/download

* Summary (*.PDF Adobe Acrobat document): http://www.scope.org.uk/drupal-fm/214/download

* More on Scope: http://www.scope.org.uk/

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