Disabled people will lose out to the tune of £9.2 billion over the next five years following the introduction of the Government’s proposed welfare reforms, says a new report by think tank Demos. Plans to move disabled people onto Job Seekers Allowance will account for over half (£4.87 billion) of these losses.
Far from securing the Government’s avowed aim of increasing employment for people with disabilities, the report also claims that the proposals will result in greater long-term unemployment amongst disabled people which will, in turn, increase the burden on tax payers.
Called Destination Unknown, the report was funded by Scope and the Barrow Cadbury Trust. It warns that disabled people will be “caught in the cross-fire of Government cuts” affecting every aspect of the support they currently rely on, including social care, housing and help with living costs. People switched from Incapacity Benefit to Job Seekers Allowance will lose nearly £9,000 each by 2015 and families with disabled children will lose over £3,000 over the same period.
“This is extremely worrying evidence that the Government will break its promise to ensure cuts are progressive and fair. If cuts are allowed to hit the most vulnerable the hardest, the consequences will be felt for decades to come”, said Sara Llewellin, Chief Executive of the Barrow Cadbury Trust.
Accepting that reform of welfare arrangements is desirable, Destination Unknown makes a number of alternative recommendations which it says would create a fairer system. These include, capitalising Housing Benefit to enable more disabled people to own their own home, reforming the Work Capacity Test to broaden the focus away from just medical difficulties, and amending Incapacity Benefit arrangements for those deemed fit to work.
Destination Unknown can be downloaded at: