Just six per cent of the public think the Government’s disability benefit reforms will make Britain a better place for disabled people, a new poll suggests.
Survey conducted by pollsters Populus for the charity Mencap found that just 6 per cent of people think provisions included the Welfare Reform and Work Bill will improve disabled people’s lives.
Conversely, as many as 71 per cent of people believe the welfare change will make Britain a worse place to have a disability – with 47 per cent, nearly half, thinking it will make life “much worse”.
The findings come ahead of a key vote in the House of Lords on changes to Employment Support Allowance, one of the main disability and sickness benefits.
The latest round of cuts will see many disabled people lose £30 a week from the £102.15 “work related activity group” payment as new claimants are brought in at a lower rate.
Previous surveys of people in the current group affected have found that over half per believe they would struggle to stay healthy if hit by the cut.
Around a third people getting help from the ESA WRAG also believe they would be unable to heat their homes or eat.
A coalition of disability charities has previously warned that the reductions will make it more difficult for people with disabilities to move into jobs – a state goal of the Government.
Peers are debating the cuts on the same day the Court of Appeal ruled that the Government’s so-called “bedroom tax” – which mainly affects disabled people – is unlawful and discriminatory against the disabled.
Ministers have said they will appeal the ruling at the UK Supreme Court.
Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap, said disabled people were being hit by repeated rounds of cuts by the Government.
What does five more years of the Tories mean for Britain?
What does five more years of the Tories mean for Britain?
1/8 Welfare payments will be slashed
One of the most controversial parts of the Conservative manifesto was to cut benefits for the working age poor by £12 bn over the next three years. But during the campaign they only said where £2 bn of these savings would come from. That leaves £10 bn still to find. Some experts think the only way they can close that gap is by means testing child benefit – with millions of families losing out
2/8 There will be tax cuts for those in work and those who die
The Tories will increase the threshold at which the 40p rate of tax becomes payable to £50,000 by 2020. They haven’t said so but it is also likely that at some point in the next five years they will abolish that 45p rate of tax altogether for the highest earners. They also want to increase the effective inheritance tax threshold for married couples and civil partners to £1m
3/8 There will be an in/out EU referendum in 2017
The next two years are going to be dominated by the prospect of a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. First off David Cameron has the daunting task of negotiating a deal with other EU leaders an acceptable deal that he can sell to his party so he can go into the referendum campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote. This may be unachievable and it is possible that the Tories may end up arguing to leave. Opinion polls show Britain is divided on EU membership, one poll this year showed 51% said they would opt to leave compared to 49% who would vote to stay in
4/8 There will be more privatisation of the NHS
Having won the election the Tories now have a mandate to go further and faster reforming the NHS. In order to make cost savings there is likely to be greater private involvement in running services, while some smaller hospitals may lose services they currently provide like A&E and maternity units
5/8 There will be many more free schools – and traditional state schools will become a thing of the past
The Tories plans to create 500 new free schools and make 3,000 state schools become academies. They will also carry on reforming the Department of Education and remove more powers from local authorities over how schools are run
6/8 On shore wind farms will be a thing of the past and fracking will be the future
Government spending on renewable energy is under real threat now the Lib Dems are no longer in power with the Tories. Subsidies are likely to be slashed for off-shore wind farm and other green energy supplies. Meanwhile there will be generous tax break for fracking as ministers try and incentivise the industry to drill for onshore oil and gas
7/8 There maybe more free childcare – but not necessarily
In the campaign the Tories pledged to double the amount of free early education for three- and four-year-olds from 15 hours a week to 30. The extra hours would only be offered to working families where parents are employed for at least eight hours a week. However they have not said where the money will come from to fund the pledge
8/8 Workers' rights could be reduced
The Tories want to slash business regulation, merge regulator and cut costs. The Lib Dems stopped them from reducing the employment rights of workers in power – but these are now under threat
“Disabled people were hit by £18bn of benefit cuts in the last parliament. Despite this the Government are again targeting them with this cut to ESA WRAG. So far the Government have offered no substantial impact assessment for a cut which 7 in 10 disabled people say will cause their health to suffer,” she said.
“Disabled people have been hit hard by previous rounds of cuts and the cut to ESA will make it worse – especially when combined with social care cuts. The public now clearly share these concerns, with a third saying the Government are not at all aware how these cuts will affect disabled people’s lives.
“With the public joining disabled people, opposition around this cut cannot be ignored. We ask Peers ahead of the vote to listen to disabled people and the wider public’s deep unease with the cut to a key disability benefit.
“The government should instead focus on the many barriers that have led to just 6% of people with a learning disability being in paid work. Cutting ESA WRAG will not improve this figure.”
The Government says disabled people will benefit from the social security changes and receive more support to get into work.
At the Conservative party conference in October Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith urged disabled people to work their way out of poverty, saying they should not be "sustained on government handouts".
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions previously said of the cuts: “The fact is that currently someone placed in the Work-Related Activity Group would receive more money every week than a person on Jobseekers Allowance, but get nothing like the help to find suitable employment," a spokesperson said.
“Our reforms will provide up to £100m per year to give people in this group the practical support they need to move closer to the labour market and when they are ready, back into work.”Reuse content