Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

The benefit freeze: taking from the poorest to give to the richest?

Debbie Jolly and Merry Cross from the Disabled People Against Cuts group, write that the Coalition’s promise to protect disabled people has been proven to be an outright lie

January 11, 2013
5 min read

Photo: Disabled People Against Cuts

The public were told that disabled people will be protected from the 1 per cent annual increase freeze on benefits. This is not the case at all. In the coalition’s own Equality Impact Assessment (July 2012) it states:

‘Of the households who lose from this policy, based on internal modeling, we expect roughly half will contain somebody who is classed as disabled under the Equality Act’. As the standard of equality impact assessments from this government go, this is an alarming revelation compared to the usual lacklustre attempt which routinely announces little impact for those policies so obviously set to cause additional devastation to disabled people’s lives and independence.

Before the coalition came to power, disabled people already faced some of the greatest levels of poverty in the UK. That had always been the case because of all the barriers to employment that we face. Cameron said he would protect those who are most ‘vulnerable’ and Miller, ex minister ‘for’ disabled people, said the coalition would support those with the highest needs. Esther McVey, the current minister against the disabled, has repeated the same hollow mantra.

Yet, we have seen attack after attack. Before Christmas the coalition announced that the Independent Living Fund (ILF) would close completely by 2015. This fund has for many years, supported people with the highest level of needs: who either need round-the-clock availability of assistance, sometimes including elements of nursing care, or help with the majority of physical actions.  It had already been closed to new applicants in 2010. For many the complete closure of the ILF will mean support is withdrawn as they will become dependent on local authorities, which, after billions of pounds worth of coalition cuts are unable to sustain adequate support. Some local authorities, such as Worcester and Wiltshire, say they may institutionalise disabled people as a cheaper option. All say that people will not get the same level of support from their local authority as they did under ILF.

The coalition assertion that disabled people will be protected is also shown to be an outright lie in other ways. The Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) that is claimed to be protected is not; only the support component of this is. The support component exists only for the smallest minority, representing around thirty pounds per week – the rest of ESA is subject to the freeze – thus the majority of disabled people on it will be affected, rather than protected.

The impact assessment does not manage to identify that disabled people are not a homogenous group, but fall into other groups affected too – nor indeed does the government rhetoric, preferring to portray us all as merely passive benefit recipients. Disabled people in work will be affected as tax credits are frozen. In addition, single disabled women will be more affected, as will single women who are also parents or parents of disabled children; there will be additional issues if they are from a black or minority ethnic group (since they already suffer from relatively poor levels of service in comparison to the rest of us).

Then there is the projected 500,000 people knocked off Disability Living Allowance in the changeover to Personal Independence Payment.  Did you know that AFTER the consultation exercise on this, the government quietly changed the qualifying criterion in relation to distance you are able to move (in a manual wheelchair or otherwise) to a mere 20 metres, from 50 metres? And that had already been halved from the criterion under DLA, which was 100 metres!

Already the much maligned Work Capability Assessments carried out by Atos have caused homelessness, suicides, and early deaths. In 2011, within just 6 weeks of the WCA, 10,600 sick and disabled people died. We await in trepidation, the 2012 figures. If the one percent freeze disproportionately affects the poorest (because they have to spend all their money and basics like food are rising steeply) then for disabled people it represents an even harsher blow, another cruel cut in real terms for subsistence existences. Expect the return of disabled people forced to beg on the streets.

The cumulative impact is huge; added to other draconian cuts it’s the most devastating attack on disabled people by any government in post war Britain – the same government that gives those earning more than £150,000 a year a 5 per cent tax cut.

And all because these cuts are necessary? No. Regular readers will know that the deficit never was as bad as we’ve been told and could easily be remedied by tackling tax avoidance, building homes and creating jobs. To support our cause, please spread this information far and wide.

For more information please go to: www.dpac.uk.net or follow on Twitter: @Dis_PPL_Protest

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.
Share this article  
  share on facebook     share on twitter  

Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism

Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists

Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson

As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win

The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution

Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.

‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition

#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny

Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke

The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana

Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth

Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company

You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild

Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University

This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback

Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein

Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up

Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement

‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic

Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden

There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright

Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones

‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression

Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death

‘Committees in Defence of the Referendum’: update from Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte on developments as the Catalan people resist the Spanish state's crackdown on their independence referendum

The rights and safety of LGBTQ+ people are not guaranteed – we must continue to fight for them
Kennedy Walker looks at the growth in hate attacks at a time when the Tory government is being propped up by homophobes