Paralympians Kadeena Cox and Anne Wafula Strike are amongst more than 16,500 people and a coalition of 80 charities and organisations urging party leaders to end disability benefit cuts.
The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) has today delivered an open letter to party leaders, urging them to protect disability benefits from further cuts in the next Parliament. Those who’ve backed the letter include Paralympians Kadeena Cox and Anne Wafula Strike; wheelchair athlete Carly Tait; BBC Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills; actor Alun Armstrong; Sky Sports commentator Tony Johnstone and guitarist with rock band The Maccabees Felix White.
There are more than 13 million disabled people in the UK. On average, they spend an extra £550 a month on costs related to their impairment or condition.
Financial support is vital for disabled people. It helps them to stay in work for longer, pay their bills, spend time with friends and family and fulfil life goals. But years of welfare reform have left thousands of disabled people with their benefits reduced or completely taken away.
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.”
Changes to benefits and ongoing problems with assessments which have severely impacted disabled people include:
– Tightened eligibility criteria under Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which has led to more than 50,000 people losing their Motability vehicles since PIP started to replace Disability Living Allowance in 2013;
– Inaccurate decisions in initial assessments resulting in as many as 65% of denied PIP claims being overturned on appeal;
– A £30 a week cut to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for new claimants in the Work Related Activity Group and the equivalent in Universal Credit;
– New regulations for PIP to overturn a tribunal ruling which means that 165,000 people could be denied access to the benefit;
– A flawed work capability assessment for ESA which fails to properly recognise the barriers many disabled face in getting and staying in work.
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.”
About the Disability Benefits Consortium
The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is a national coalition of over 80 different charities and other organisations committed to working towards a fair benefits system and seeking to ensure Government policy reflects and meets the needs of all disabled people.