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Our comment on benefits spending cap breach

20 June 2014

Ineffective benefits changes

It is no surprise that MPs are raising concerns that DWP will not achieve savings through introducing Employment and Support Allowance – see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27927843

Liz Sayce said ‘The only ethical and effective way to reduce spending on out of work benefits is to enable more disabled people to get jobs and careers: otherwise you just drive disabled people, who are already twice as likely to live in poverty as everyone else, into even greater poverty. The irony is that the new assessment regime has created a culture of fear, frightening people into thinking they will lose their benefits if they don’t try work – but because of the inadequate employment support the job opportunities have not come through. The Work Programme is failing disabled people: latest DWP statistics (June 19) show one year job outcomes of people on Employment and Support Allowance range between 2% and 5% (depending on whether they are new ESA claimants, people who were on the older Incapacity Benefit etc). This is a failure rate of over 90%.  Even 2 year outcomes are between 6% and 12%.‘

There are major problems of implementation of the new benefit regimes. At Disability Rights UK we hear every day from people who are desperate because of delays in benefits assessments and decisions. People are going into debt, having to rely on food banks – or simply waiting for endless months for a PIP decision after an accident or a new health condition, putting their lives on hold – when the benefit might enable them to get an adapted car, or bring in support with daily living – to start having a life. The problems are not all the responsibility of contractors like ATOS though – there are also problems with the policy. We need assessments that positively identify what individuals need to live independent lives, and to work if that is possible for them now, and then put those supports in place.

The benefits changes are causing fear and confusion around the country – and they are not working.