keeping up the struggle against the Westminster coalition government's controversial Welfare Reform Bill.
Neil Coyle, Disability Rights UK Director of Policy and Campaigns, declared this week: “The Government’s removal of protections for some disabled people from the Welfare Reform Bill ignores the hundreds of thousands of disabled people directly affected, the hundreds of charities who have highlighted the potential devastating impact for disabled people and their families, the House of Lords who proposed additional protections and the Joint Committee on Human Rights who suggested the Bill will cause destitution.”
Disabled people are disproportionately represented among benefit claimants due to educational attainment issues, higher poverty, lack of accessible work and employer discrimination.
The Bill aims to cut 280,000 disabled people from receiving out of work benefits altogether and 500,000 disabled people to be made ineligible for a benefit designed to help with disabled people’s higher costs of living.
These plans have long term cost implications being ignored, critics say, by Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) – including a substantial potential increase in avoidable NHS use and rise in demand for council social care services - which many disabled people are being made ineligible for due to council budget cuts.
House of Lords amendments had secured protection for some disabled children, disabled adults needing longer than a year to find work and disabled students.
Disabled people believed their fears and concerns had been acknowledged and addressed in the Lords, says Disability Rights UK, but but this hope has been removed in the Commons' demand for short term welfare expenditure cuts which, they say, ignore risks of higher future costs as well as abandoning or exposing vulnerable people to suffering and even destitution.
Legal challenges are now being considered. The Spartacus Report campaign for DLA, initiated and led by people who are themselves living with disabilities and sickness, has been opposing the Bill in its current form and demanding that they be involved in policy and decision-making on issues that deeply effect their dignity and livelihood.