Election 2017: Coalition of 80 charities unite to pressure party leaders over disability benefit cuts

Paralympians Kadeena Cox and Anne Wafula Strike and BBC Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills among those signing cross-party open letter

Jon Vale
Friday 02 June 2017 00:01
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There are more than 13 million disabled people in the UK, forced to spend considerably more than average
There are more than 13 million disabled people in the UK, forced to spend considerably more than average

More than 16,500 people and a coalition of 80 charities have signed a letter urging party leaders to put an end to disability benefit cuts.

Paralympians Kadeena Cox and Anne Wafula Strike and BBC Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills are among those to have signed the open letter to all the political parties, urging them to protect disability benefits from further cuts in the next parliament.

There are more than 13 million disabled people in the UK, who spend an average of £550 extra every month on costs related to their condition.

However, charities in the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) say disabled people have borne the brunt of welfare reforms to the point where their benefits have been reduced or removed altogether.

Laura Wetherly, policy manager at the MS Society, which co-chairs the DBC, said: “Today, thousands of people across the UK are sending a loud and clear message to our politicians that the current welfare system doesn't make any sense.

“Too many disabled people have been stripped of the security and stability they need to live independent lives.

“The next Government must make sure no further cuts are made to disability benefits so that disabled people can rely on support without the constant fear of having it taken away.”

More than 50,000 people have had specially adapted motability vehicles taken away since personal independence payments (PIP) were brought in to replace the disability living allowance (DLA) in 2013.

Celia Johnson, who lives with multiple sclerosis (MS), lost her motability car after having her benefit downgraded last year.

She said: “I’ve fought for a long time to keep my independence with a condition like MS that's so unpredictable.

“It can’t be right that with a stroke of a keyboard, they can completely mess up someone’s life. This shouldn’t be allowed to happen.”

Nearly two-thirds of people rejected for PIP who take their case to an independent tribunal have the decision overturned in their favour.

Other issues include a £30 a week cut to new claimants in the employment and support allowance (ESA) work-related activity group, as well as problems with the work capability assessment, which tests people on whether they are fit to work.

Disabilities Minister Penny Mordaunt this week said this assessment treated people “like they’re in a sausage factory” as she pledged to reform it if the Tories continued in power.

Press Association

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