No practical concern for disabled in Osborne's 'aspiration nation'

By staff writers
20 Mar 2013

“There’s no place for disabled people in the Chancellor’s aspiration nation", Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of disability charity Scope said today (20 March) in response to Chancellor George Osborne's 2013 budget.

“Disabled people want to live independently. But the support they need to get up, get dressed and get out and about is being squeezed due to chronic under-funding of social care," said Mr Hawkes

“Neither the £72,000 cap on costs nor £118,000 means test will resolve the care crisis for disabled people, who make up a third of the people who use social care.

“Disabled people want to be able to pay for essentials without turning to credit. But in 2013 they are struggling to make ends meet. Life costs more if you're disabled and this is being compounded as living costs spiral and incomes flat-line. What’s the Government’s response? A squeeze on financial support which means many disabled people face not one, but two, three or four different cuts to vital support.

“In this context it’s a frightening prospect that welfare could be capped in the June spending review – having already been slashed by billions. Some people need benefits, get over it. It doesn’t make them a scrounger, it doesn’t make them workshy and it doesn’t make them a lay-about.

“Surely an aspiration nation should be a place where disabled people can pay the bills and live independently?” asked the Scope (http://www.scope.org.uk/) CEO.

Meanwhile, the Disability Rights UK (http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/) has summarised the main budget changes as they impact disabled and vulnerable people as follows, with references to the key Treasury data:

Care costs cap: 1.195 The Government will now introduce a £72,000 cap on reasonable care costs and extend the means test from April 2016.

Childcare: 2.86 Childcare vouchers – The Government will introduce a new Tax-Free Childcare Scheme to support working families with the costs of childcare. Once fully in place, support will be worth 20 per cent of childcare costs up to £6,000 per child each year, for children under 12.

This new system will be phased in from autumn 2015, with all children under five eligible from the first year of operation. Disabled children up to age 16 will also be eligible in line with existing Employer Supported Childcare Rules. Tax-Free Childcare will be available to families where all parents are working, who are not already receiving support through tax credits or Universal Credit and where neither parent earns over £150,000 a year. Alongside the new scheme, the current Employer Supported Childcare will be phased out for new applicants from autumn 2015.

2015.2.87 The Government will also increase childcare support within Universal Credit, to improve work incentives and ensure that it is worthwhile to work up to full-time hours for low and middle income parents. An additional £200 million of support for childcare will be provided, which is equivalent to covering 85 per cent of childcare costs for households qualifying for the Universal Credit childcare element where the lone parent or both earners in a couple pay income tax. The details of how to provide this support will be determined as part of the consultation on the Tax-free Childcare scheme, to ensure the two schemes operate effectively together. The new element of support in Universal Credit will be funded from within social security budgets at the time.

Pensions: 2.80 Single-tier State Pension – The Government will introduce the single-tier State Pension from April 2016-17. As announced in the White Paper in January 2013, the State Second Pension will close and contracting-out of National Insurance will be abolished. The current value of the contracting-out rebate is 3.4 per cent for employers and 1.4 per cent for employees on earnings between the lower earnings limit and the upper accruals point.

Road tax/vehicle excise duty: 2.147 Disabled drivers exemption – From 8 April 2013 the Government will extend the current road tax exemption those receiving the enhanced mobility personal independence payment (PIP) and introduce a new 50 per cent discount for those receiving the standard mobility PIP.

Tax and national insurance: 2.81 Tax reliefs and Personal Independence Payments (PIP) – Through the Finance Bill 2013 and amending other regulations, the Government will legislate to ensure tax reliefs currently available for claimants of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will be available for those eligible to receive PIP, which will begin to replace DLA for working age claimants from April 2013 and those in receipt of Armed Forces Independence Payments (AFIP).

2.38 Universal Credit – The Government will legislate to ensure that Universal Credit will be exempt from income tax. (Finance Bill 2013)

2.41 National Insurance: £2,000 Employment Allowance – The Government will introduce an allowance of £2,000 per year for all businesses and charities to be offset against their employer NICs bill from April 2014.

* For more information see: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/budget2013.htm

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