Hardest Hit Report Shows Disabled People's Fears About Welfare Reform

A recently published report put together by the Hardest Hit Coalition of charities has reiterated disabled people’s concerns about the effect that the new welfare reforms will have on their daily lives. Published as part of a campaign to increase awareness about the possible impact of welfare changes, the publication revealed that 8 out of 10 people were worried that they would lose their Disability Living Allowance (DLA) which would leave them struggling to cope with their disability. The report further revealed that 9 out of 10 people believed that losing their benefits would directly impact on their health.

Over the course of 2012, over 4,500 disabled people completed a questionnaire designed to gain an understanding of their views and experiences with regards to the current welfare care systems. The survey results provided some interesting insights into the problems that disabled people faced on a daily basis and how these barriers were extremely difficult to overcome mainly due to the costs associated with them. Disabled people are almost twice as likely to be forced into poverty and this is where the DLA has helped to cover the costs associated with being disabled and thus allowing them to continue to live independently. Most respondents from the survey stated that they used their disability allowance to cover heating costs if their disability had deteriorated during the extreme winter weather.

Under government plans, the DLA will be scrapped and replaced with the Personal Independence Payment which the government believes will save over 2.2 billion. 78{62753bda712f8726ff506772054b8eb8cc86c22a15ff97c29e4cab436a2dfc3b} of respondents stated that they were concerned that they would not qualify for the new PIP scheme. Furthermore, 75{62753bda712f8726ff506772054b8eb8cc86c22a15ff97c29e4cab436a2dfc3b} of respondents believed that if they lost the allowance they would require more social support. One respondent stated that “I know the Government say they have to cut spending, but cutting DLA will simply mean they’ll have to spend more money on other things. It’s a false economy.”

The Hardest Hit coalition is putting pressure on the government to ensure that any future welfare changes take into account the effect that they will have on disabled people. The government needs to make sure the assessment processes are fair and that it helps to stop disabled people falling into poverty.