Disabled people in Scotland are bearing the brunt of the UK government’s welfare reforms, according to Citizens Advice Scotland.
As MPs prepare to debate the issue at Westminster today, CAS has published a briefing which lists four individual welfare reforms which are having a damaging impact on disabled people and their families. These are:
- Changes to Sickness Benefits. 115,000 Scots are losing their entitlement, with more than half (65,000) moved out of the benefits system altogether;
- The Bedroom Tax. 83,000 disabled Scots will lose an average of £11 per week in housing support;
- The End of Disability Living Allowance. Up to 100,000 Scots likely to lose out over the next four years, as this benefit is changed to the ‘Personal Independence Payment’;
- The new ‘Universal Credit’ could see hundreds of thousands of disabled people lose some or all of their benefit income.
As these are individual reforms, many disabled people are being hit by more than one of them, and some will be victims of all four. So CAS is today urging MPs to support a motion forcing the government to investigate the cumulative impact of these changes, to make clear exactly how many disabled people will lose out, and in what ways.
Speaking ahead of this afternoon’s debate, CAS Chief Executive Margaret Lynch says,
The people who have suffered most from the welfare reforms are those who were already the most vulnerable. This includes sick and disabled Scots and their families, who have borne the brunt of these changes in wave after wave of cuts, re-assessments and changes. Every week CAB advisers see disabled people who were already struggling on low incomes and who are now seeing their benefits cut even further, so that in many cases they are reduced to poverty and facing the nightmares of debt, arrears, eviction and foodbanks.
Of course it’s not just disabled people who are affected by the welfare changes, but as today’s debate focuses specifically on this group, we have identified for MPs the four individual reforms which we see as being the most damaging to them. This ‘quadruple whammy’ is making life a misery for sick and disabled people in our communities. Many are affected by more than one, and indeed some will be victims of all four.
We need the government to understand just how serious the situation is for those affected. The evidence we present is based on real CAB cases, and so shows the immediate impact these cuts are having on peoples’ lives. But as yet the government has not made an official assessment of exactly how many people are being affected by these changes – and in particular how many are being hit by more than one of them. It’s therefore not clear that the government understands the true impact of its policies. So today we are urging MPs to focus on this, so that we can get a real picture of just how bad the crisis is.
For more information, interviews etc., please contact Tony Hutson on 0131 550 1010.
Notes to editors - click to expand/collapse
The House of Commons will today (Wednesday) debate a motion which reads: Effect Of Government Policy On Disabled People - That this House believes that the Government should publish, by October 2013, a cumulative impact assessment of the changes made by the Government that affect disabled people.
The CAS briefing, which has been sent to all Scottish MPs ahead of this debate, is attached. It includes more information and references on all of the above.