High numbers of disabled people, who receive benefits in order to live independently, could be affected by proposed changes to the formula used to assess individual daily need.
It is estimated that around 640,000 people currently claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which helps them afford home improvement equipment such as handrails and stair lifts.
Using such aids gains users a certain amount of points which calculates how much money people are entitled to. Users of handrails or specialist toilet seats, which would have previously gained two points, would now only gain one and lead to a reduction in benefits.
“IT’S A HUGE AMOUNT OF MONEY”
CHARLOTTE THROSSEL, DISABILITYDIRECT
This difference could see a drop of more than £200 a month in the amount of disability benefit someone receives.
Charlotte Throssel, from Nottingham support group DisabilityDirect, believes the changes will have a huge impact:”It’s a huge amount of money to come away from disabled people, their families, carers and support networks,” she said.
The secretary of state for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, has since resigned from his post in protest of the proposals. Social commentators say Duncan-Smith’s departure is the most dramatic cabinet exit under Cameron’s leadership.
On news of Duncan-Smith’s departure Mrs Throssel went on to add: “To begin with it was huge sighs of relief and some cheers that he had gone because he is seen as the bad guy who’s removing money and food.”
Andrew Rule, who is a Conservative councillor for the Clifton North Ward, has said that things “should have been ironed out before the chancellor announced his budget.”
He went on to add: “Iain Duncan Smith has done a fantastic job in reforming the welfare system in this country but budget after budget he’s been expected to find further cuts and savings.”
These are not the first changes made towards disability benefits. From June 2013 anyone who would have previously claimed for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) was automatically moved over to claim PIP.
This meant that eligibility was more dependent on how severely the condition affects an individual and not the condition itself.
Just two weeks before the budget, the government forced through plans to cut £30 a week from the Employment Support Allowance (ESA) which helps ill and disabled people who are deemed unfit to work.
In a scathing attack against the government’s decision, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn made the following speech in the House of Commons:
JEREMY CORBYN’S RESPONSE TO DISABILITY CUTS
“He (George Osborne) could not have made his priorities any clearer. While half a million people with disabilities are losing over a billion pounds in personal independence payments, corporation tax is being cut and billions handed out in tax cuts to the very wealthy.”
The treasury says the changes will save £4.4bn by 2020/21.