- Housing: There is a major shortage of accessible housing in the social sector meaning many disabled people are already forced to rent in the more costly private sector where it is incredibly difficult to find an accessible property. Estate agents do not have to keep details of adaptations or access features, so in addition to the significant rent shortfalls most Local Housing Allowance recipients face, disabled people are additionally disadvantaged by barriers to searching for a home. Mind The Step estimates that 78, 000 households which include a wheelchair user live in homes which are not fully accessible. The allocation of accessible social housing is already woefully inadequate; in 2008-9 only 22% of local authority and housing association ‘wheelchair standard’ properties allocated to households including a wheelchair user. Plans to remove security of tenure from social housing tenants disproportionately impact on disabled people, as costly adaptations are a barrier to moving regardless of size of property.
- Housing Benefits: Provision for an additional bedroom for a non-resident carer where a disabled person has an established need for overnight care is a welcome step but will not be awarded automatically. It also fails to address the need for extra space to use a wheelchair, store equipment, receive dialysis or other medical treatment experienced by many disabled people. Anyone under 35 who is disabled but not in receipt of middle or high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance will receive the shared room rate despite shared housing being impossible to access for many disabled people for a myriad of reasons. The recent announcement that DLA is to be scrapped means it is currently impossible to assess the full impact of these two changes. From October 2011 the LHA will be reduced from the 50th percentile of Broad Market Rent to the 30th forcing disabled people to rent the very cheapest properties which are more likely to be inaccessible. Linking LHA to the Consumer Price Index which does not take into account housing costs will further limit disabled people’s access to suitable housing. Housing benefits are to be time limited to 12 months for people in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance, after which benefit will be reduced by 10% for those still out of work. This must be understood in the context of the controversial Work Capability Assessment designed to strictly limit the numbers of disabled people entitled to Employment & Support Allowance. Discretionary housing benefits have been increased in recognition of the expected hardships the reduction in LHA will cause, but these can only be claimed for a maximum 13 weeks meaning they are completely unsuitable to protect disabled people’s homes in the longer term. Changes to the amount of mortgage interest payments have been estimated to potentially lead to additional 64, 000 disabled people becoming homeless
- DLA/PIP Sweeping changes were announced to DLA in the CSR which intend to reduce overall eligibility by 20-25%. The higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance used by disabled people to pay for transport outside their homes via motability vehicles, powered wheelchairs and accessible taxis will no longer be paid to state funded care home residents as the government deem the local authorities should provide transport services. However, people self funding their care home places will continue to receive the HRM, making the argument that LA’s provide appropriate transport dubious at best. This will see 9/10 Livability care home residents as ‘prisoners’ in their own homes, left with just £22 p/wk to pay for toiletries, glasses, clothing, entertainment and potentially also for suitable wheelchairs costing tens of thousands of pounds, currently often funded via HRM.
- In ADDITION to this reduction the government have now announced their intention to scrap DLA altogether and replace it with Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The intent is to reassess all DLA recipients from 2013 at vast cost and further reduction to entitlement. The consultation implies that anyone who receives support from a source such as social services will no longer be entitled to PIP. It also implies that if there a mobility aid such as a wheelchair could be used that will preclude entitlement to PIP even if the only way to fund purchase of that mobility aid had previously been through DLA. Disabled People’s Organisations are asking the question, ‘just which disabled people will actually be able to qualify for this benefit’?
- IB/ESA Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is the controversial replacement to Incapacity Benefit described in June 2010 as ‘unfit for purpose’ and the ‘responsibility’ of ministers by Danny Alexander MP. ESA will be replaced by the Universal Credit but reassessment by the flawed WCA, criticised as not working properly by its own creator will continue at huge financial and personal cost.
- Contributory ESA, paid only to those with sufficient NI contributions, is to be time limited to 12 months, raising very serious questions about the ‘insurance’ part of NI. This will cause significant hardship to families reliant upon ESA and may well lead to further unemployment and higher overall benefit claims as families find the only way they can provide care to the disabled member is for the carer to drop out of employment altogether.
- There are many changes to the provision, entitlement to and charges paid for receiving social care. The Independent Living Fund which provided for the highest level support needs in combination with the local authorities is now to be scrapped without consultation. Despite the government insisting the local authorities should not need to reduce the provision of social care, areas such as Birmingham are restricting it to those with ‘extra critical’ needs only, a higher threshold than the four bands set out in the government’s fair access to care services guidance whilst most local authorities intend to increase charges. The practical impact of this can be seen in the recent decision by Kensington & Chelsea council to remove night care from a former ballerina, who will now be left to lie on soiled incontinence pads at night as it is cheaper than providing a carer to assist her to a commode.
- Access to Work provide funding for disability-related equipment for working disabled people. It supported some 37,000 disabled workers last year. Touted as "improvements" the reform redefines what it is "reasonable" to expect an employer to provide for disabled staff. Some things which will no longer be funded are voice activated software and specialist chairs. It might seem reasonable to say that an employer hiring for an office position should provide the new employee with a chair but a specialist chair costs significantly more than standard, sometimes many thousands. Multiply that across all the equipment on the list and suddenly it becomes significantly more expensive for an employer to hire a disabled employee.
- Transport. In addition to the removal of the high rate mobility component of DLA from care home residents (starting 2012) there are also cuts to various council funded communityThe impact of the cuts varies in each borough but the general picture is of disabled people facing cost increases of over 65% for a vastly restricted service. transport schemes. Taxicard is a vital scheme which provides door to door transport for older and disabled people in London.
Monday 31 January 2011
Please add any cuts you are aware of in the comments section and we will update this list accordingly, thank you