The Hardest Hit, a coalition of over 90 disabled people’s organisations and disability charities, including the MS Society, RNIB and Mencap, has condemned the Government’s decision to press ahead with a £2 billion cut to vital support provided by DLA/PIP. Today’s statement by the Government on the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) regulations is “crushingly bad news”.
Steve Winyard, co-chair of the Hardest Hit coalition, said:
“Just a couple of weeks before Christmas, the Government has delivered crushingly bad news for over 600,000 disabled people. Today’s announcement of the PIP regulations confirms that they will lose all help with the extra living costs they face due to their impairment*. A further sizeable group will receive significantly reduced financial support in order to deliver the £2 billion saving that the Treasury is seeking from the abolition of DLA**. This is a cruel and unwanted early Christmas “present” for disabled people already hardest hit by the Government’s austerity programme.”
“Back in 2010 the Prime Minister promised to protect the most vulnerable while seeking to reduce the deficit. However this has been totally forgotten as disabled people experience deep cuts to their benefits, services and rights. Last week it was the reduction in the value of Employment and Support Allowance, today it is entitlement to DLA/PIP.”
Losing DLA will not only impact on living standards, it will also make it much harder for disabled people to return to work. As Nicky a Hardest Hit campaigner comments:
“I’ll lose lower rate care for sure. That’s £20.55 a week as it stands. It’ll make things tight. I will struggle, but the kicker will come when I attempt to go back to work because without my DLA, I won’t qualify for the Disabled Person’s Tax Credit so won’t be able to afford to do part time work to ease me back in. I’ll need to find a full time job paying at 18k a year despite a massive gap in my CV, continuing health problems and starting a new career after my old one wasn’t at all being ill friendly. So I can’t afford to work part time, I can’t do straight back to full time…looks like I’m going to be stuck on ESA forever. All for the sake of that £20.55 per week support going, I’m thrown on the scrapheap, never to pay tax or NI again.”
The Government makes great play of the fact that they consulted widely on these changes. But as Kaliya Franklin of the Spartacus collective points out:
“True co-production means working in partnership with disabled people and both parties agreeing upon all details, not asking disabled people what they think and then only listening to answers the government like. So for Ministers to claim that PIP has been co-produced is at best misleading and at worse untrue. Many thousands of disabled people along with charities and Disabled People User-Led Organisation’s responded to the government’s consultation on DLA – PIP; the ‘Spartacus Report’ which was written and produced by disabled people themselves comprehensively disproved the government’s claims to have consulted. Asking for responses but ignoring the answers is neither listening nor co-producing. The Spartacus Report resulted in defeat for the government in multiple votes in the House of Lords, which were railroaded by the government using financial privilege to get its own way. It is deeply disappointing to see DWP Minister’s once again claiming to have worked with disabled people, when all that means is that disabled people were asked and any disagreement with the government was ignored.”
Hardest Hit rejects the £2 billion cut and rejects the idea that there are more than 600,000 disabled people who do not need their DLA. In “The Tipping Point” report, published by the Hardest Hit coalition in October, we pointed to a number of alternative ways to make the £2 billion saving. The Government should not be trying to reduce the deficit on the backs of disabled people.
For more information contact Jenna Litchfield, Senior Press Officer, MS Society. Phone: 020 8438 0782 firstname.lastname@example.org.
*By October 2018 if Government continued with DLA, 2.182m disabled people of working age would be receiving some help with either daily living or mobility. With PIP the number is 1.575m. So, overall the PIP caseload in May 2018 will be around 608,000 lower than the DLA caseload would have been without the introduction of PIP.
** The DWP estimates that by May 2018 510,000 re-assessed DLA recipients will see a reduction in their award.
Notes to Editors
The Hardest Hit coalition brings together the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) and the UK Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC).