The Budget outlines the Government’s spending priorities for the year. How can the chancellor Philip Hammond make his first budget work for disabled people?
Ahead of the Budget next Wednesday (8 March) we’ve been responding the Government’s announcement that they intend to tighten up access to Personal Independence Payments (PIP) following two court rulings which widened access. We are really concerned that this could lead to disabled claimants missing out on the financial support they rely on to live independently.
We have spoken to MPs and Ministers about this change. It has also been debated in Parliament and raised in Prime Minister’s Questions. Disabled people spend around £550 a month on costs related to their disability and on average are less financially resilient than non-disabled people.
That’s why PIP, which helps disabled people meet some of these extra costs, is so important.
We want the Government to clarify the numbers of people who won’t be eligible for PIP following their decision and we have made them aware of our concerns. The PIP assessment must focus on the extra costs people face not their impairment.
In the Budget the Government should provide more reassurance that the financial support disabled people receive now or in the future will not be negatively affected.
We also want them to take action to drive down the extra costs disabled people face, properly fund social care and provide support for disabled people both in and out of work. We responded to the Government’s consultation on employment and submitted these points to the Treasury.
The extra costs disabled people face
As well has helping disabled people to meet the extra costs they face by protecting PIP, it is also important the Government take action to drive them down. We’ve asked the Government to develop a cross-Government strategy to tackle extra costs. We also want them to draw up a definition of a vulnerable consumer – with a particular focus on the energy industry – to ensure consistency in the support provided for disabled energy consumers.
The funding crisis in social care has remained high on the political agenda this year. Along with a number of MPs, local councils and other charities we have been calling on the Government to provide the social care system with the funding it so urgently needs.
400,000 working age disabled people rely on social care support for everyday tasks such as cooking and washing. It’s vital that everyone who needs it is able to access good quality social care that supports them to live independently. When we asked disabled social care users about their experiences of care, over half told us their care never supports their independence.
The Government has already committed to a review of social care. This is welcome but they must consult with and listen to disabled social care users as part of that review, something we have asked them to do.
It has been widely reported the Budget will include some money for social care and we hope will be used to improve care for disabled people. However, a short-term injection of cash won’t be enough. We need to see the Chancellor set out a sustainable long-term plan for funding social care as demand continues to grow.
Last year the Government launched a consultation on the support disabled people receive to find, stay and progress in work. That consultation closed last month and we want the Government to use the Budget as an opportunity to set out what they’ll be doing next. We want to see a package of real reforms set out in a White Paper as soon as possible.
We also want to see the Government halt a proposed financial reduction to people who receive Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
From 1 April this year new claimants will receive £30 a week less than current claimants. We don’t think that will help disabled people to find jobs, it will just make life harder.
Scope has been campaigning against this reduction since it was initially proposed and this is the Governments last chance to act.
On the day we’ll be tweeting as the Budget takes place and sharing our response to key announcements on the website.