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Disabled adults four times worse off financially than non-disabled adults finds new DBC report

16 July 2019

A major new report by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) outlines the damaging impact on the finances and lived experience of welfare reform on disabled people.

The DBC, of which Disability Rights UK is a member, is a national coalition of charities and other organisations committed to working towards a fair benefits system.

The research - Has welfare become unfair - The impact of welfare changes on disabled people - is the first comprehensive study looking specifically at the cumulative impact of welfare changes on disabled people.

Changes to the welfare system over the past ten years have left disabled adults four times worse off financially than non-disabled adults, according to new research commissioned by the Disability Benefit Consortium.

While many people who receive welfare support have experienced cuts of an average of £300 as a result of changes to the welfare system, disabled people have typically lost around £1,200 per year.

The research also found that :

  • The more disabilities you have the more you lose out, for example someone who has six or more disabilities loses over £2,100 each year on average, whereas someone with one disability loses around £700 each year
  • Households with one disabled adult and one disabled child lose out the most, with average losses of over £4,300 per year

The report also says that the current system has become so complex and dysfunctional, that many disabled people have found it has had a devastating impact on their wider health and wellbeing.

The DBC makes a series of recommendations for urgent welfare reform  the government including - 

  • financial reform -
    • end the benefit freeze;
    • bring back the employment and support allowance work-related activity component and the equivalent element in universal credit;
    • introduce a disability element to universal credit to replace the disability premiums that have been cut from the system
    • remove the benefit cap for everyone who receives a disability-related benefit, including those in the work-related activity group or equivalent in universal credit; 
    • return the work allowances in universal credit to pre-2016 levels; and
    • remove the two child limit;
  • application process - simplify claim forms and increase resources so charities and other advice agencies are better able to assist in completing the forms;
  • assessments - review the assessment criteria for personal independence payment (PIP), bring in regulations to ensure other types of evidence are given equal weight, and automatically issue claimants with a copy of their assessment report in their preferred format;
  • supporting information and medical evidence - commission an independent review of the evidence-gathering process and work with medical practitioners to develop better quality evidence for claimants, support claimants in obtaining their own evidence and reimburse them for it, and require assessors to review all supporting evidence;
  • mandatory reconsiderations - preclude the reviewing decision maker from seeing the previous decision-maker's conclusions, and provide an opportunity for oral evidence to be given at this stage;
  • tribunals - increase the number of tribunal panel members to reduce waiting times and introduce targets for how long people should wait, and conduct full audits of decisions that are changed to improve decision-making; and
  • cost of living with a disability - carry out regular, independent surveys of the actual costs of living with a disability and ensure that the level of payments under PIP reflects this.

The DBC report Has welfare become unfair is available @ https://disabilitybenefitsconsortium.wordpress.com