Over 60 national disability charities have called on the Government to reverse its planned cuts to disability support allowances after new research suggested the policy will actually make it harder for disabled people to find work.
Mencap, MS Society, Parkinson’s UK, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Arthritis Research UK and the Royal National Institute for Blind People are among organisations warning that the cuts will make it harder for disabled people to get jobs and could make their health conditions worse.
The planned cuts, to Employment and Support Allowance, will see around £30 a week taken from new claimants who the DWP judges to be capable of work at some point in the future.
Hundreds of thousands of people are currently in the group set to be penalised.
ESA is paid to people with disabilities and illnesses in part to to cover additional costs they might face finding employment or in their day-to-day lives.
A survey of claimants in the so-called “work-related activity group” found that 69 per cent believe the cuts to the allowances will cause their health to suffer.
45 per cent also warned that being subjected to the changes would make it difficult to find work.
The findings of the survey come despite a rhetorical commitment from the Government to make it easier for people to find work.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith told Conservative party conference earlier this month that disabled people should work their way out of poverty with the help.
The letter was put together by the Disability Benefits Consortium, a coalition of over 60 national charities.
Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap, which co-chairs the group, said: “These findings confirm the vital role support from benefits like ESA plays in the lives of disabled people, and shows how taking this support away would leave people isolated from their communities, closer to poverty, further from work and unable to live fulfilling lives.
“Crucially the survey shows that by reducing this benefit by £30 a week disabled people will be pushed further away from employment, contradicting the Government’s desire to halve the disability employment gap and get more disabled people into work.”
“We urge the Government to immediately reassess the impact of benefits cuts on disabled people and their families. Benefits are being taken away, cut or frozen without any real consideration of their effects on the people they exist to support. Coupled with cuts to social care, these benefit reductions risk creating a crisis for disabled people in the UK, forcing them into the corners of society and closer to poverty.”
A Department of Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We are absolutely committed to supporting disabled people and that’s why we continue to spend around £50bn a year on disabled people and their services.
“Our reforms will ensure the right support and incentives are in place to help disabled people move closer to the labour market and, when they are ready, back into work.
“Those who are already claiming ESA will see no change in the level of benefit they receive. In addition, payments for people in the support group, who have the most severe work-limiting health conditions and disabilities, will be maintained at the current level.”
The Government says the ESA cut will save £1.4bn over the next four financial years.