Tag Archives: welfare

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. 

Welfare Reform and Work Bill: what happened and what’s next?

For the last seven months we have been working to influence the Welfare Reform and Work Bill since it was announced in the Queen’s Speech.

This week, the process of debating the Bill in both Houses of Parliament finished, and it will shortly receive Royal Assent. What will the finished Bill mean for disabled people and their families?

The Bill aims to achieve the Government’s manifesto commitment of ‘full employment‘.

As part of their plans to do so, the Government committed to halving the disability employment gap, following on from a Scope campaign.

Scope focused on ensuring that measures within this Bill supported more disabled people to find, stay and progress in work.

As the Bill went through Parliament, two key areas of focus were:

  • Calling on the Government to include a requirement in the Bill to report annually on the progress it makes towards halving the disability employment gap.
  • Opposing the reduction in financial support the Bill proposed for disabled people in the Employment and Support Work Related Activity Group (ESA WRAG).

Halving the employment gap

The Bill requires the Government to report annually to Parliament on the progress it is making towards full employment. We argued that the Government should also have to report each year on the progress it makes towards halving the disability employment gap, and this should be specifically included in the Bill.

In the House of Commons MPs tabled amendments (a proposed change), setting out this requirement and what the report should include. Once the Bill reached the House of Lords, Baroness Jane Campbell also tabled an amendment that was supported by Peers from across the House.

While the amendment was not accepted, Government Minister Lord Freud, made a ‘no ifs, no buts’ commitment that the annual report on full employment would contain a report on halving the disability employment gap.

Although we would have liked to see this commitment in legislation, this is an important commitment. Now we would like to hear more detail from the Government on what this report will contain, and we are meeting Ministers to discuss this further.

A reduction in ESA WRAG

The Bill proposed a £30 week reduction in support to new claimants of ESA WRAG from April 2017. The Government’s own impact assessment found this would be around half a million people.

We are really concerned about this change and think that will push disabled people further away from work.

Alongside other charities we supported three independent cross bench Peers to carry out a review into the impact this change would have. It found that the proposed cut to ESA WRAG would make it much harder for people in this group to find work.

When the Bill was in the House of Lords, we supported amendments by Lord Low, one of the Peers who led the Review, to remove this section from the Bill. The amendment was passed by the Lords and the Government defeated.

Changes to the Bill have to be passed by both Houses in a period called ‘Ping Pong’, with MPs having the final say. MPs voted to overturn the Lords changes but MPs from all parties spoke out in opposition to the change.

The House of Lords then passed a further amendment which would require the Government to carry out an impact assessment before these changes were introduced. Despite opposition from charities and many MPs this was also defeated by  the House of Commons. Lord Low described this as a ‘black day for disabled people’ .

We are disappointed that this will soon be law and that from April next year new ESA WRAG claimants will receive the same level of financial support as people on JSA. Cutting financial support is not an answer to halving the disability employment gap.

A vital opportunity to reform the system

Throughout the debate MPs, Peers and Government Ministers spoke about the upcoming White Paper on disability, health and employment which the Government has said will reform support for disabled people to further reduce the disability employment gap.

This is a crucial moment and it we hope that it might include reform of the Work Capability Assessment and set out new details on specialist employment support to address the structural barriers to work disabled people face.

This is a vital opportunity to reform the system to make it work for disabled people which must not be missed.

Read more blogs from our policy team

Welfare Reform and Work Bill: next steps after the Lords’ vote

Our last blog on the bill outlined the two priority areas for Scope – the proposed reduction in financial support to some disabled people and reporting on the Government’s progress in getting disabled people in to work.

The Bill has now reached ‘ping pong’ stage – it will be passed between the House of Lords and the House of Commons until an agreement can be reached.

The amendments

During their last debate in January, members of the House of Lords voted on a number of changes to the Bill, including:

  1. Preventing unemployed disabled people from losing essential support

The Bill proposes a reduction in financial support for new claimants in the Work Related Activity Group Employment of Support Allowance of around £30 per week.

This would impact nearly half a million people, risking households falling in to financial hardship and pushing disabled people further away from the jobs market.

The Government’s plans to reduce this support were defeated by 283 votes to 198 at the House of Lords. Now the Bill is being passed back to the Commons, it will fall to MPs to either uphold or reject this decision.

We think MPs should accept this amendment because we are worried about the impact a reduction in financial support could have. Disabled people are usually out of work for longer periods of time than people claiming jobseekers allowance. They are less likely to have savings and more likely to be in debt than non-disabled people, which makes adjusting to a reduction in income much more difficult.

Whether it’s paying for an internet connection to look for jobs, to transport to an interview, or appropriate work clothing, the process of finding work can come with substantial additional costs for disabled people. Reducing the amount of money available to meet these costs could move some disabled people further away from work.

People who are currently supported under the Work Related Activity Group should be protected from these changes, which are intended to only affect new claimants from April 2017. However, an unintended consequence of this could mean that some disabled people are put off starting work, because if they were to then fall out of work they would receive ESA at the new lower rate.

  1. Measuring progress towards halving the disability employment gap

In their 2015 election manifesto, the Government committed to halving the disability employment gap.

The employment rate for disabled people doesn’t follow economic cycles in the same way as the employment rate for the wider population. This means it’s crucial that we measure progress towards reducing the gap in employment between disabled and non-disabled people to ensure that disabled people have the same opportunities to get in to and progress in work as everyone else.

This priority was raised through another amendment to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, which proposed to make annual reporting on progress on the gap a legal requirement for government.

Although this amendment wasn’t taken up, we were pleased to hear Lord Freud ‘formally commit’to including updates on progress in reducing the disability employment gap within a new annual report on progress towards full employment. His comments mark the firmest commitment from government in this area over the course of the bill so far.

We are now looking for more detail on what reporting will involve. It is essential that changes in the employment gap are measured against the same criteria on an annual basis. This will give a clear indication of where further work is needed to ensure the government makes real progress towards its goal.

We will be live tweeting the debate on Tuesday 23 February, and you can follow proceedings live online on Parliament TV. Watch out for more blog updates on the bill as it progresses through parliament.  

Welfare and Work Bill – our priorities in the closing stages

The Welfare and Work Bill that is currently going through Parliament is a big priority for Scope because it will have a major impact on the employment prospects of disabled people.

As scrutiny reaches its final stages in the House of Lords, and as set out in our last blog post on the Bill, Scope is focused on two key issues – opposing the proposed cut to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for some disabled people, and persuading the Government to report on progress in meeting their commitment to halve the disability employment gap.

Disability employment gap reporting

A key issue for Scope is requiring the Government to report annually on progress in meeting its manifesto commitment to halving the disability employment gap. The first clause of this Bill introduces a reporting obligation on the Government’s progress towards achieving full employment, ensuring Parliamentarians and the public are kept informed of progress towards meeting this target.

Scope believes that this should include a requirement for the Government to report annually on meeting its commitment to halve the disability employment gap, which itself set as a Manifesto commitment.

The gap between disabled people’s employment rate and the rest of the population has remained stubbornly static at around 30% for the last decade. The Government cannot hope achieve its objective of full employment unless it halves this gap. Reporting annually on progress towards doing so, will draw attention and accountability to this very welcome commitment, and will greatly help to prioritise its delivery by the Government.

This looks set to be the first issue that Peers debate then the Bill’s Report Stage starts later today.

Opposing reduction to ESA

On Wednesday, they will turn their attention to the Government’s proposed cut to Employment and Support Allowance for disabled people in the Work Related Activity Group.

In previous blog posts and Parliamentary briefings, we have set out how this proposed cut of £30 a week will adversely affect some disabled people, who have been found unfit for work by an independent assessment. The cut will disincentivise them from finding employment, and push them further from the labour market.

Two important developments have powerfully brought home this message to Parliamentarians recently. At Lords Committee Stage, Scope and our coalition partners in the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), supported Lord Low, and Baronesses Meacher and Grey Thompson, to review the impact of the ESA WRAG cut.

From evidence received from disabled people, as well as organisations representing them, the review found the proposed cut to ESA WRAG would make it much harder for people in this group to find work. This is because it would more difficult to be able to afford training, work experience and volunteering. Cutting benefits would also lead to stress and anxiety as people struggled to pay the bills, affecting their physical and mental health, according to the review’s findings.

It recommends that Government should not push ahead with the cut. Instead, they should put in place better support for disabled people to help them build up their skills and support to look for, and stay in, work.

Disabled people had the opportunity to communicate these messages face to face with MPs  in a lobby of Parliament a couple of weeks ago, which was attended by nearly a hundred members of Parliament.

The review and lobby of Parliament have generated considerable momentum behind the campaign to reverse the ESA WRAG reduction. Both independent and leading opposition Peers have signed up to amendments to scrap the ESA WRAG cut, and its equivalent in the Universal Credit system. Scope and our DBC partners are very hopeful that this will herald a vote against a reduction in ESA on Wednesday night in the House of Lords.

We will be live tweeting the debates on Monday 25 January and Wednesday 27 January, and you can follow proceedings live online on Parliament TV. Watch out for more blog updates on the bill as it leaves the Lords, and MPs consider any changes they have made.  

Disability services in Finland: a better life?

Recently Jean Merrilees returned from spending three months at a regional centre that assesses people for equipment in Finland, as part of her degree in Occupational Therapy at the University of Northampton. Having worked for Scope for a couple of decades, advising disabled people on a wide range of issues, it was a good chance to reflect on how disability services in Finland compare to those in the UK. Continue reading Disability services in Finland: a better life?

Four things we’ll say to MPs on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill

This afternoon, Scope is giving oral evidence to a committee scrutinising the Welfare Reform and Work Bill. It aims to achieve full employment in the economy and reforms a number of working age benefits that will impact on the lives of disabled people.

Scope will be putting forward the following four key priorities to MPs:

Halving the disability employment gap

Scope was very pleased with the government’s bold and ambitious manifesto commitment to halving the disability employment gap, taking forward a Scope pre-election recommendation, set out in our Million Futures report.   

In order to see this through, we want to see the government include a reporting requirement on halving the disability gap to clause 1 on full employment reporting. Getting a million more disabled people back to work, will be essential to realising the government’s vital aim on full employment.

Research for Scope set out in our ‘Enabling Work’ report shows the substantial economic benefits of even small increases in the disability employment rate – to give just one example, a 10 percentage point increase in the disability employment rate will grow Gross Domestic Product by £45 billion by 2030.

Oppose reduction in Employment Support Allowance payments to the Work Related Activity Group

The government is cutting the financial support provided to disabled people through the Employment and Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group (ESA WRAG).

We do not see this as an answer to halving the disability employment gap. Disabled people placed in ESA WRAG have been found ‘unfit for work’ by the independent Work  Capability Assessment. Rather than incentivising disabled people to find work, this will push them further away from the job market, and make their lives harder.

Improving employment support for disabled people

Research shows that disabled people very much want to work, but they face a range of barriers to doing so.

Scope wants to see the government bring forward detailed plans for the development of improved employment support for disabled people in order to enable them to enter, stay and progress in the world of work. Scope has a number of proposals on what specialised employment support should look like for disabled people.

Enhancing extra costs payments for disabled people

Scope welcomes the recognition in this Bill of the importance of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payments (PIP) in meeting the extra costs of disability. Scope’s research shows that disabled people’s extra costs average £550 a month, around £360 of which are met by DLA/PIP.

Scope believes it’s critical the government to build on its commitment to protect DLA/PIP from cuts, by enhancing it through a triple lock so that it’s value rises by the higher of CPI inflation, earnings or 2.5 per cent.

You can follow Scope’s evidence session with MPs today via Twitter  and watch this space for a report back on the outcome of Scope’s lobbying on these issues.

I was 21, a new mum, and terrified about the future: #100days100stories

We first shared Dionne’s story and film in August 2014. We’re republishing it here as part of Scope’s 100 Days, 100 Stories project. 

Dionne was in her first year at university in London when she became pregnant with Jayden, now aged seven. He has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and global development delays and isn’t able to walk, talk or sit up.

“I had no problems during the pregnancy, the problems started during labour,” Dionne says. “Jayden stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated at birth. He had seizures when he was just a day old and ended up in the special care unit. Doctors had no idea what was wrong with him.”

“I just had to get on with it”

Dionne had planned to go back to university to finish her degree, but Jayden’s care needs and many hospital appointments ma de that impossible.

She also faced a huge struggle getting any support for Jayden. He was born in one London borough but the family lived in a different one, so neither council wanted to take responsibility – and in any case, services were overstretched. Dionne and Jayden were living alone in a mother and baby unit, with no outside support.

“For the first three years of Jayden’s life we had nothing. No equipment at home, no physiotherapy other than a sheet of paper with instructions, and no real support. Everyone was talking but most people were not doing. I had so much hope in care services but time after time I was let down.

“I was 21, terrified about the future and extremely depressed. There were days when Jayden cried endlessly and didn’t sleep at all. We were both exhausted. I was always on standby for something to go wrong with my son and I hated feeling helpless. I was very critical of myself, and so were the people around me.”

“I go back time and time again”

Dionne originally contacted the Scope Helpline for advice about physiotherapy. She was put in touch with Vasu, a Scope regional response worker, who visited her at home to discuss the kind of support she needed.

Since then, they have worked together to tackle a huge range of issues relating to Jayden’s care, health and education. Vasu wrote to social services pushing them to take notice of Dionne’s case, and this led to Jayden finally being offered a physiotherapist.

Dionne says: “Vasu has sent me so much information about sources of funding and the latest treatments for cerebral palsy. He emails me application forms and sends them in the post as well just to make sure I receive them! He rings me unprompted to give me advice and see how I am. He’s even offered to send job opportunities my way.”

RS3249_DSC_0014Vasu also introduced Dionne to a solicitor to pursue a successful negligence
case against the hospital where Jayden was born, which will be a huge help in providing for his needs in the future.

“Out of all the organisations I’ve been to, Scope’s the only one that’s stuck,” Dionne says. “It’s an organisation I go to time and time again because things actually get done.

“Jayden is so aware and so intelligent. No matter what he goes through, even a seizure, he still has a smile for me. He just needs decent support so he can gain the independence he craves. I want Jayden to enjoy being a child, without restrictions, and I want to enjoy being a mum.”

Today is Time to Talk Day, which asks everyone to take five minutes to talk about mental health.

Find out more about 100 Days, 100 Stories, and read the rest of the stories so far.

 

What the Conservatives and Labour say about welfare reform and disability

Today the Work and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith gave a speech to mark the 10th anniversary of the formation of the Centre for Social Justice think-tank about welfare reform.

Here is what he had to say about disability:

“Of course in the most severe cases of sickness and disability, it is right that welfare should support individuals, but even then, it must be about more than sustainment alone. It should be about helping people to take greater control over their lives.

For all those who are able, work should be seen as the route to doing so – for work is about more than just money. It is about what shapes us, lifts our families, delivers security, and helps rebuild our communities. Work has to be at the heart of our welfare reform plan, or all we will do is increase dependency not lessen it.”

Read the speech in full on the Spectator website, or with other comments on the Guardian’s politics live blog.

On Tuesday Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary laid out her party’s stance on social security at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think-tank, and here is what she said about disability:

“Now it’s important to say at the outset that there will always be people who cannot do paid work, because of illness or disability.

“And it is part of our responsibility to them to make their rights a reality: rights to dignity and respect, to a decent standard of living, and to the resources and support that can empower them to contribute and participate equally and fully in society.”

Read the speech in full on the New Statesman website.

Welfare debate… what next for disability?

As Labour and Conservative welfare leads spell out a vision for the benefits system, Richard Hawkes asks, what’s happened to the debate on disability?

It’s a big week for welfare.

Labour and Conservative leads are spelling out their visions for the welfare state, vying to be seen as ‘tough but fair’.

On Monday Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves told the Institute for Public Policy Research they would force jobseeker’s allowance claimants with inadequate maths or English to go on basic skills courses as a condition of receiving their benefit. Labour estimates this will affect about 300,000 people.

Iain Duncan Smith is making a key-note speech on Thursday. We don’t know the detail yet. But on Monday he and Theresa May placed a joint article in the Mail promising a “Housing benefit ban on jobless migrants”.

But as the Telegraph’s Benedict Brogan says, “The changes each side is proposing amount to fiddling at the margins.”

Meanwhile there is a big, unavoidable question about disabled people’s living standards that politicians have to answer over the next 18 months.

How do we make sure that as the economy picks up we don’t leave disabled people behind?

With disabled people struggling to make ends meet and getting in debt, struggling to live independently and struggling to find and keep work it’s an urgent issue.

We know politicians are working behind the scenes on this.

Unfortunately the current political debate makes it almost impossible to focus on the real issues.

The disability debate is stuck in stereotypes: ‘hopeless disabled person in need of hand-outs’ or ‘skiving scrounger fiddling the system’.

So here are three ways we can re-start the disability welfare debate:

  1. Let’s start by seeing disabled people as individuals – not a big group of people all with identical barriers and in need of the same support. Then let’s get over the fact that some disabled people need benefits, and instead take a look at why disabled people need support. Most disabled people are facing a living standards crisis – but sitting behind this are a range of concerns – from public attitudes, to local support to live independently and simply making ends meet.
  2. How we can drive down the costs of living with a disability? The issue of extra costs has been totally ignored so far. Disabled people aspire to live an ordinary life – no more, no less. Being disabled brings with it huge extra costs, research shows it can average between £800 – £1,550 per month. This includes things like specialist food, specialist equipment, specialist clothing, accessible travel costs.   While these costs exist Disability Living Allowance – introduced by the Conservatives in 1992 –  is vital and must be protected. It creates a level playing field and enables people to live and work. Before we get stuck in discussions about eligibility and assessments, let’s remember why this support exists in the first place.
  3. How can we change employers’ attitudes? There is rightly a lot of discussion about Employment Support Allowance and the Work Capability Assessment. But the focus should be on getting people back to work. Disabled people are pushing hard to get jobs and get on in the workplace. Nine in ten disabled people work or have worked. Yet only about 50% of disabled people have a job right now. A million more disabled people could be in work. How can we make sure disabled people get the tailored, specialist support they need and how improve the work place to so that disabled people thrive?

We know all parties want to engage positively with the 10 million disabled people in the UK. We know there’s a lot of positive discussion going on. But, when it comes to welfare, now’s the time to start to address the big issues.