Opinion: What is the cumulative impact of cuts on disabled people?

With the Conservative ring-fencing of 40% plus of the welfare budget because it goes to a section of society which disproportionately votes Conservative (e.g. pensioners), it should come as no surprise to anyone that the forcing of all welfare cuts onto the remainder of recipients has hurt a lot of people.

Amongst those most badly effected are disabled people. Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (formerly known as incapacity benefit) has been time limited to one year. Disability Living Allowance is being replaced by Personal Independence Payments and will have been cut by 20% by 2015. Social care services are being cut by local councils as the money available from central government reduces. And many other services and forms of support have also been affected – such as the Independent Living Fund and the Social Fund.

Now each of these, on its own, doesn’t necessarily sound too bad. But, to use an analogy, if you take away a schoolchild’s textbook on its on then they could probably still learn from their teacher. Likewise if you were to take away their exercise book, or their desk, alone. But if you take away all of these together then the schoolchild would find it very hard to learn at all.

And this is the problem facing disabled people. If you’re disabled then you might need disability living allowance for transport so you can do things like go to the hairdresser or the social club and to get to your GP and hospital appointments. You might have a carer from social services to help you get dressed and washed each day because you can’t on your own. You might rely on housing benefit so you can afford to live somewhere close to family and friends who can help you with cooking meals when you can’t cope on your own.

Take away any of these on their own and you would struggle, but you could probably cope. Take away all of them together and you’ll end up hungry, isolated and trapped in your own home. And that is what I, and many others fear, is currently happening to vulnerable people who need support and don’t have anywhere to turn to.

When each of the cuts to services and support which disabled people use were made the government conducted impact assessments and, on the basis of these, parliament supported the cuts. But these assessments only looked at each cut in isolation. No one stopped to look at what the combined effect of them all would be.

That’s why I hope Lib Dem MPs will back the motion calling for a cumulative impact assessment of the impact of cuts on disabled people this Wednesday 10th of July at 4pm. This would enable us to properly understand the full combined impact of these changes and give us a better picture of what is happening.

It may be that the cumulative impact of these cuts on disabled people turns out to be something we’re happy with, or something that we can stomach at least. Or it could turn out to be something we consider absolutely unacceptable. But right now we don’t know one way or the other. That’s why we need a cumulative impact assessment – at least then we can look at the whole picture and come to a conclusion one way or another. But right now policy is being made with stabs in the dark. And that can never be wise.

* George Potter is a councillor in Guildford

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  • Anthony Hawkes 9th Jul '13 - 9:04am

    The government has repeatedly been asked to publish a cumulative impact assessment. What is the harm in that? Either it works, which is good, or is does not work, in which case we need to fix it. Not publishing one is just irresponsible.

    Please LibDem MPs, support this one.

  • Shaun Young 9th Jul '13 - 10:38am

    Absolutely agree!

    However, I just wanted to clarify the point in regard to Contributory ESA – The one year time limit, applies to those who are in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG), after which time depending on circumstances, will be moved across to Income Related ESA – Those who are on Contributory ESA and in the Support Group, are not subject to time limitation. I hope you do not mind me raising this point, but I felt it would prevent any undue worry or concern for those who are in the Support Group element. I have provided a link that explains the different elements and conditions of both Contributory and Income Related ESA:

  • Isn’t that kind of a disingenuous opening sentence given that the Triple Lock was Lib Dem policy implemented by the coalition?

  • Great post, George.

  • Can I just point out that many people who now receive DLA will not be eligible for the new PIP benefit – and many currently use it to help them get to work. So, more unemployment.

    It is estimated that approximately 200 people in every constituency will lose their vehicle and that the Motability Scheme will have reductions in new car sales of around 50,000 sales per year and therefore losses to the economy of about 5,500 jobs and £126m in tax receipts per year.

    The mobility component is also currently spent on services key to local economies, particularly taxi journeys, delivery charges and mobility aids. The loss of this individual purchasing power will have dramatic effects; every £1 removed from central government welfare funding means a loss of £1.6 spending in local economies. How is this helpful? Not only will it negatively affect disabled people’s lives, but it will also impose huge pressures on the services and economy of local communities, costing the taxpayer more.

    And please do not forget that sick and disabled people are also subject to all the other cuts such as the welfare cap, housing benefit, the bedroom tax, etc.

    And it doesn’t end there. Around 450,000 disabled households are set to lose out under the new Universal Credit system. For example, 100,000 families with disabled children stand to lose up to £28 a week.

    Disabled people, those with long-term conditions and their families are already at risk of hardship and face massive barriers to getting into work and education. The cumulative effect of all these cuts will push them into poverty, debt and isolation.

    So much for the “Paralympic Legacy”.

  • Andrew Colman 10th Jul '13 - 7:54am

    The ATOS checks on disabled benefits could become the coallition’s poll tax.

    The policy should have been scrapped at birth when in early tests when the majority of ATOS decisions were being overturned over appeal. We are seeing a chain of very stupid & unjust decisions & creating a climate of fear causing suicides. The media are largely complicit in this process hence no big scandals “yet”.

    I call on the Lib Dems in their 2015 manifesto to pledge to scrap the tests, compensate those affected and “prosecute” those responsible. The tests should be replaced with a scheme that helps disabled people find work rather than threatening their benefits.

  • That went well then.

    Liberal Democrats voted against doing a Cumulative Impact Assessment. (CIA) of the effects of the numerous cuts to support for sick and disabled people.

    Thought you might all like to see a sample of the responses on Twitter.

    will @Libdems MPs do what is right and vote for cumulative impact assessment motion tomorrow re #CiaDisability Safety must come 1st

    Disability can happen to any of us therefore its an issue for all of us” #CIAdisability

    Why are so few ministers debating #CIAdisability? As a member of @LibDems I’d hope to be represented as a constituent and a disabled person

    I voted #LibDem. I cannot express how deep my hatred for that party now runs. #ciadisability

    @julianhuppert didn’t even attend the #CIAdisability debate yet voted no. Just lost my vote at the next election, not to mention my respect

    It was easy 4 #LibDems 2 hold a moral high when they were in #Opposition, now they have tasted power we c their halos slip #CIADisability

    feeling very dejected by today’s result. #CIAdisability Why can’t they see and why don’t they care?

    Every @LibDems had a chance to stand up for vulnerable disabled people, and failed them in the #CIAdisability vote

    I am so depressed reading the #CIADisability thread, do I really live in a society that cares so little when people need it most? 🙁

    When the time comes remember that #Tories attack on disabled ppl wudnt have been possible without active support of #Libdems. #CIAdisability

    Ministers were arrogant in their dismissal of disabled people #CiaDisability of #carers too

    Many ConDem MPs While Not Present during #CIADisability Debate but turned up to vote against

    Utterly ashamed I believed @LibDems were any different. Never again. #BloodOnYourHands #CIAdisability

    I appreciate everyone tweeting about the #CIAdisability I just wish it didn’t make me feel so panicky, helpless & scared for the future

    All Tories and Lib Dems are stupid for voting against disabled people! #CIAdisability

    @GregMulholland1 just wondering why u made a speech on #CIAdisability but then didn’t vote

    @timfarron can u pinpoint me to the right person to find the @LibDems stance why disabled ppl shouldnt be treated fairly with #CIAdisability

    Every @LibDems had a chance to stand up for vulnerable disabled people, and failed them in the #CIAdisability vote

    @LibDems its because like most in society they think it wont happen to them . #ciadisability how wrong they are.

    Seriously considering abandoning party politics after yesterday. I am a person not an object to be used by politicians. #CiaDisability

    Not even human; Disabled people are no longer any more than names and conditions. #CIADisability

    If some were paid by performance , they would be as skint as us. Can’t even attend #ciaDisability but can vote on it.

    #CIADisability: Are we not worthy? Commons decide not to have a cumulative impact assessment, leaving many in dismay.

    It’s horrifying that we have to fight our own government to protect disabled people! #ciaDisability

    How can any MP justify voting on ANYTHING without attending the debate & being fully informed?! #CIAdisability

    genuinely shocked at ppl asking govt to show cumulative impact of #disability reforms described as ‘extremists’ #CIAdisability

    #CIAdisability vote means that MPs think it not worth the time/effort to find out how much damage is being done to the most vulnerable

    Why do #LibDems continue supporting #Tory lead attacks on sick/disabled? Pple r dying & yet they still cant find their spines #CIADisability

    Seriously they are voting on an amendment to trumpet their record on Disability rights! You can not make this farce up #CIAdisability

    @timfarron So much for the #fibdems stopping the #tories going too far….How do you lot sleep at night???? #CIAdisability

    Not tweeting #CIAdisability, except to say UGHHHHHHHHH. I already knew the government wanted me dead. It’s mutual.

    #CIAdisability I wish I’d have watched the ashes instead. Left feeling sick & ill.

    Shame on all non-attending MPs this afternoon – you have let disabled people down badly. #CIAdisability

    I feel like someone just punched me in the gut. How are we ever going to make them listen, #crying #ciaDisability

    And if any of you are interested, here is the Transcript of the Debate. Read it and Weep. A lot.


    And here is the voting record


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