The Government has no idea how cuts are impacting on disabled people - and no intention of measuring

Today Labour's Liam Byrne is demanding that the Government carry out a cumulative impact assessment to find out how welfare reforms are really affecting families

Share
Related Topics

Today, Labour will use their Opposition Day Debate to focus on the impact of the Government's welfare reforms on disabled people. Shadow Minister Liam Byrne will specifically be demanding a vote on cumulative impact assessments of its changes to benefits.

As political jargon goes, 'cumulative impact assessment' is up there with the AME/DEL cap. But don't let the dull label fool you. If the Government carried one out, each of their welfare cuts would get a much-needed reality check.

Let me explain: Currently the Government assesses how a policy change affects people by carrying out a one-off impact assessment. So when the so-called bedroom tax was drafted, ministers knew roughly how many people would lose out, and by how much per week. Similarly, when Disability Living Allowance was replaced with Personal Independence Payment, the impact assessment told us how many DLA claimants would not be entitled to PIP, and how much income they would lose as a result.

So far, so clear. But there are two unfortunate facts to take into account.

The first is our welfare system is set up so many people receive more than one benefit at a time. You get a small sum for being in poor health, another for being unemployed, another if you have a child, another if you have high housing costs, and so on.

The second is that the Government’s ambition around welfare reform knows no bounds. There isn’t a single benefit that hasn’t been cut, or scrapped, or made harder to get.

These two facts combined mean that almost everyone receiving benefits will be affected by more than one cut – if you’ve had your child benefit frozen then you probably also face a tax credits cut; millions of unemployed will also have their JSA limited year-on-year and their housing benefit reduced.

For disabled people, this multiple cut effect is even more significant, as they are far more likely to rely on several benefits to make up their income, due to their disability and their higher risk of being unemployed or on a low income. There are hundreds of thousands of disabled people across the country facing four, five, even six separate cuts to the benefits they receive, as the Government makes sweeping reductions to welfare spending.

This is why a cumulative impact assessment is so important. At the moment, the Government has no way of knowing how much that disabled person facing six cuts stands to lose. They know how many people are affected by each separate cut, but have no idea how these might hit one individual, or the impact the combined cuts might have on a family’s budget.

The Government’s response is this analysis is too hard to carry out – but this isn’t the case. Demos, with the support of Scope, carried out its own cumulative assessments with readily available public data. The results are striking.

264,000 disabled people in social housing will lose in total over £6,300 each by 2017. This might not sound a lot – £6,300 isn’t a fortune – but this is hard to stomach when their average yearly income is less than this.

And spare a thought for households facing a combination of six simultaneous cut, due to lose £4,600 a year as a result. Would you be able to cope?

For disabled people these are life changing – life endangering – losses. They often have higher living costs: taking taxis when public transport is inaccessible, spending more on heating and specialist food, having to buy specialist clothing – the list is endless. For those surviving on benefits (bear in mind half of disabled people in this country are unemployed) losing £10 a week makes heating, electricity, rent, lifesaving equipment or a medical appointment too much to cover. Something has to give.

Disabled families we spoke to during our two year Disability in Austerity Study showed us clearly what that meant. For the parents of a disabled child, it meant skipping medical appointments because they couldn’t afford the diesel. For a disabled man and his wife caring for him, it meant stuffing the window with newspaper in the winter because they couldn’t afford the repair. For a young woman in a wheelchair, it meant getting further into debt when a tyre needed replacing.

And this is why today’s debate is so vital. The Government cannot persist with the piecemeal analysis currently used to estimate the impact of welfare reform – which measures only one cut at a time. Without a cumulative analysis we have no way of knowing who is worst affected, and by how much. How can we judge the fairness of cuts without knowing their impact?

Claudia Wood is Deputy Director of the think-tank Demos

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Election catch-up: I’m not saying the Ed stone is bad – it is so terrible I am lost for words

John Rentoul
 

General Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living