Tag Archives: budget

Budget 2017 – Will it deliver for disabled people?

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.

Social care

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.

Employment

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.

Read more about what we said to Government on the specific changes.

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. 

What today’s budget means for disabled people

The Government announced measures on Extra Costs payments, employment support, and disability sport in today’s annual budget. In this blog we look at the impact this will have on disabled people’s lives. 

Lower economic growth figures and tax revenues meant the Chancellor announced today further public spending reductions of £3.5 billion by 2020.

Given that certain areas – such as health, schools and international aid – are ring fenced, this means that unprotected areas of Government spending will see further reductions.

Extra Costs and PIP

Today the Chancellor confirmed changes to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments which will affect 640,000 people and aims to save £1.2billion.

Scope research shows that disabled people spend an average of £550 a month on the extra costs of being disabled.

Extra cost payments – Disability Living Allowance and PIP – make a vital contribution in covering these costs – currently £360 a month on average.

The PIP assessment changes, announced last week, will see some disabled people receive a reduced rate of PIP, and others not qualify. This comes following a reduction to Employment and Support Allowance for unemployed disabled people from April 2017, as announced in the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill.

Scope hears from disabled people every day who are struggling with their finances and who are having problems getting the support they need. We are concerned at how these changes will impact on disabled people’s ability to make ends meet and save for their futures.

Disabled people already have less financial resilience than non-disabled people, with an average of £108,000 less in savings and assets. 49% of disabled people use credit cards or loans to pay for everyday items including clothing and food.

In announcing measures for young people to save, the Chancellor called his budget one for the ‘next generation’. With disabled people more likely to be out of work, or in lower paid jobs, disabled people are less likely to have money left over at the end of the month. This means that the Chancellor’s new saving incentives will be out of reach for many disabled people.

It is also vital that the Government tackles the extra costs of disability at source. The work of the independent Extra Costs Commission (ECC), which Scope facilitated, sets out the measures that business, regulators and Government can take to do this.

In particular, given the Chancellor’s announcement of an increase in the standard rate of insurance premium tax of 0.5%, we would like to see the Chancellor back the ECC’s recommendation of an investigation into whether disabled people are able to access affordable insurance.

The ECC found at least half a million disabled people have been turned down for insurance, and this increase in insurance costs threatens to exacerbate this problem further still.

The Chancellor also announced a new, slimmed down money guidance body, replacing the Money Advice Service (MAS). This new body will be charged with identifying gaps in the financial guidance market, and commissioning providers to fill these gaps. Scope worked closely with the MAS to provide information and advice for disabled people on money and debt. You can still access this advice on our website.

Disability employment

The Chancellor’s statement comes on the same day as the latest labour market statistics show a fall in unemployment, leading to the highest ever employment figures.

However, the disability unemployment gap has proved to be resistant to wider improvement in the employment rate. The gap between the rate of employment amongst disabled and non- disabled people has remained stubbornly static at 30% for around a decade.

Although the Chancellor didn’t mention it in the House of Commons, we were pleased to see the Government’s Budget Red Book confirm that later this year the government will publish a White Paper. This will focus on the roles that the health, care and welfare sectors can play in supporting disabled people and those with health conditions to get into and stay in work.

In particular, the Red Book states that the Government has accepted the recommendations of a taskforce on how to provide £330 million of additional funding for disabled claimants. This will include a new, tailored peer support offer to offered shared experiences and support to disabled people, and bespoke employment support. While this is welcome, it is important that this support is available to all disabled people who need support to find work and contribute to closing the disability employment gap.

We look forward to seeing what other measures on specialist employment support the Government will introduce through its forthcoming Employment, Disability and Health White Paper. Tailored support for disabled people is vital to overcoming the structural barriers to employment that disabled people face.

Disability sport

In the run up to this year’s Rio Paralympic Games, the Chancellor also confirmed in the Red Book a £1.5m NHS programme to provide activity prosthetics for children and fund new research. This will include a £500,000 fund for new child sports prosthetics to allow 500 children to participate in sport.

Scope welcomes this measure, particularly following our analysis that found over 4 in 10 (42%) parents of disabled children reported their children cannot access a local sports club.

If you have any questions or concerns about the changes made to your support, please call Scope’s Helpline on 0808 800 3333. 

Scope’s hopes for the 2016 Budget

Wednesday’s Budget will be George Osborne’s fifth set piece financial statement in the last 16 months. In this blog we look at the three key issues we hope the government will address: PIP and extra costs, disability employment, and social care.

A few weeks ago, the Chancellor said the UK economy is smaller than expected this year. On the Andrew Marr show he confirmed that he is looking to find additional savings equivalent to 50p in every £100 the government spends.

In the same interview the Chancellor also defended the Government’s decision to introduce new restrictions to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment, aimed at saving £1.2bn.

It is against this backdrop that the Chancellor will make his statement.

We will be looking closely at what the Budget will mean for disabled people in three key areas.

PIP and Extra costs

Last week – just days before the Budget – the Government announced new restrictions to the PIP assessment. These are expected to impact upon 640,000 people and the Government estimates that it will save £1.2bn.

This announcement was the result of a Government consultation which looked at how disabled people are awarded PIP for aids and appliances. Scope research shows that life costs more if you are disabled. Disabled people spend an average of £550 a month on disability related costs.

We’ve expressed our concern about the impact that these changes will have on disabled people who rely on PIP to help meet the extra costs of disability.

At the same time, the Government announced it is considering the case for long term reform of disability benefits and services.
We will be looking closely at what the Chancellor has to say about these plans. Any reforms must guarantee disabled people the support they need to live their lives.

We will also be looking for the Chancellor to take action to drive down the extra costs disabled people face. This was the focus of the Extra Costs Commission, an independent inquiry facilitated by Scope that reported last year.

In the run up to the one year anniversary of the ECC final report in June, we hope the Chancellor will be able to take forward ECC recommendations in his statement.

Disability employment

In the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement in November last year, he announced that 2016 would see a new ‘White Paper’ focused on how to support more disabled people into work and fulfill the Government’s commitment to halve the disability employment gap.

There is even greater pressure on the Government to deliver this since the Welfare Reform and Work Bill has all but completed its passage through Parliament, introducing a £30 per week cut in the rate of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) paid to disabled people who are in the Work Related Activity Group from April 2017.

Whilst the White Paper has yet to be published, he could be expected to give some further detail on how the £100 million fund for disability employment support (announced in the Chancellor’s last Budget) will be spent. We will also be watching for any more detail on the new Work and Health Programme, which is to be targeted at supporting disabled people to find work.

We will be looking to see if the Chancellor will set out how these funds will be effectively used and joined up to get disabled job seekers into work.

Social care

Social care was rightly a major area of focus for the Chancellor in his CSR statement. A third of social care users are working age disabled people, and they account for around half the social care budget. Social care has a vital role to play in enabling working age disabled people to live independently.

In the run up to the CSR, Scope published research on disabled people’s experiences of social care. Only 18 per cent of social care users said services consistently support them to live as independently as possible. 55 per cent said social care never supports their independence.

The Chancellor’s CSR announcements of a council tax precept that councils can charge to fund social care, and expansion of the Government’s Better Care Fund – to create better integration between health and social care, are therefore welcome. But, it is vital that the impact of this additional funding is properly monitored to see that the needs of working age disabled people are being met.

We will be live tweeting during the Chancellor’s statement, and look out for a further blog post on what is announced on Wednesday. 

A budget for savings, a resilient economy: what does that mean for disabled people?

On budget day, every interest group in the country will be sizing up the Chancellor’s words to see who are the winners and losers. Today, the two themes of Osborne’s 2014 budget are of real importance to disabled people: savings and resilience. But what impact will today’s announcement have on people’s lives?

Savings

Disabled people pay more for all kinds of everyday things, from taxi fares to work, to disability equipment, to higher energy bills – on average £550 per month.

The extra costs of disability prevent people from building up any sort of financial buffer against the unexpected. Research shows 85% of disabled people saved nothing in the past year; disabled people are three times more likely to take out doorstep loans than non-disabled people.

So a focus on savings is welcome, but before disabled people can benefit from what is on offer, we need to make it possible for disabled people to build financial assets.

20 years ago the Government brought in DLA to help disabled people meet the additional costs they face. It’s crucial that the Government protects this financial lifeline. But the cap on Annually Managed Expenditure (AME), which sets a limit on the amount government spends on welfare, could start to break the link between people’s need for financial support and the value of that support.

The Chancellor announced today that the cap would be set at £119billion in 2015-16 – equivalent to the value of the Office for Budget Responsibility’s forecast for the coming year’s expenditure. This suggests there will be no additional cuts to the welfare budget in the coming year. But the devil will be in the detail. The way the cap works means that if spending on one benefit goes up – say housing benefit or Employment Support Allowance, there will be pressure for hasty policy decisions about how other spending an be limited to keep to the government’s target. We can only watch and wait to see how this plays out and what affect that will have on DLA/PIP over the years ahead. You can read more about our position on the welfare cap here.

Resilience

Today George Osborne talked a lot about resilience – building into the recovery some sort of protection against future risk. What does resilience mean for disabled people? It’s more than just the money in people’s pockets.

People’s ability to take up all of the opportunities life presents is based on a number of things – their income, yes – but also their family and friends, having a rewarding job, having access to services that meet their needs. Today there was recognition of the need to help people manage household finances through support for energy bills and fuel costs. There was the promise of 1.5 million extra jobs over the next 5 years – we have to push for those jobs to be available to disabled people. The missing link is investment in the infrastructure that is so key to many disabled people in building their resilience – funding for social care.

If we are to build a resilient economy, it has to be one in which everyone can play their part. Disabled people have an important role to play in the recovery – but today’s budget showed we still have a long way to go.