Recently, the country has been up in arms over the impending benefit cuts. The shocking effects – nearly 400,000 people who are disabled, will be impacted by the Chancellor’s decision to cut £480 million.
So perhaps you have suffered an injury from an accident at work and are no longer able to work due the severity of the injury or the disability you have incurred. This signifies that you will most likely see a significant change in the benefits you receive. Severe, long-term implications mean that you may also see a decrease in the quality of life and your independence.
Although the welfare changes will affect everyone, the disabled will be the hardest hit – many of them falling further into poverty. As noted by Hilary Ben, Labour’s Shadow Community Secretary, thousands of disabled citizens will have to pay increased amounts and some will have to pay council tax for the very first time. Out of the 2.2 million whose bills will increase by about £577, 394,000 of them are disabled.
As if these changes weren’t enough for the disabled, the reform also calls for the elimination of Disability Living Allowance (DLA). April 8, 2013, marked the beginning of the introduction to Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which replaces DLA. The PIP is based on the severity of your disability and how it affects you, rather than the type of condition you have. Your situation will be assessed and if you score enough points, you will be eligible to claim. The government estimates that once the PIP is complete, nearly 55 percent of claimants will not receive any disability benefits and another 510,000 will receive reduced payments.
Additionally, many services that the disabled rely on for ongoing care and treatment are also being cut. Among them are drop-in centres and advice centres, respite care and some public transport. The tightening eligibility thresholds and restrictions on social care services have grave consequences. It is estimated that by 2015, nearly 105,000 disabled people will lose support completely.
Also under the new changes are eligibility requirements for legal aid. The government is trying to decrease the legal aid bill by £250 million. As of April 1, fewer people will be able to receive legal assistance for employment and personal injury cases, among others. For most, the cutoff to claim legal aid is £32,000 and, the majority of people will have to take a test.
By the time the welfare bill goes into full effect in 2015, the government hopes to save about £18 billion a year. However, these cuts seem to come at the most inopportune time. Many people who are disabled and even unemployed because of their condition already have a hard enough time paying for essentials and just getting by. The increase in cost of living, decrease in income and obstructed access to aid will force many to go into debt and deteriorate in health.
[Note: This guest post is brought to you by Irwin Mitchell]
- Changes begin for disability benefit (bbc.co.uk)
- Disability benefit reform: what is PIP and why is it controversial? (theweek.co.uk)