Today in Parliament I hosted the launch of the Disability Benefits Consortium’s (DBC) report on the impact welfare changes have had on disabled people. Welfare is supposed to be a safety net for disabled people and should be a swift, responsive, supportive framework for anyone who needs it but especially disadvantaged disabled people. But the research from the 80 organisations in the DBC shows disabled people have lost £1,200 per year on average due to changes to the welfare system. This is shocking and unacceptable given the higher costs of living disabled people routinely experience and the additional barriers faced.
Before I was elected in 2015 I worked for disability rights organisations exposing the risks of Cameron and Clegg’s cuts. After nine years of ‘austerity’ disabled people have been the target for repeated, excessive and pernicious measures.
Personal Independence Payments replaced Disability Living Allowance and were designed to cut spending on and support for disabled people. Universal Credit, which replaced several benefits, also came with wired-in cuts for over 400,000 disabled people. The DBC report found that the more health conditions or impairments someone has, the more support they have lost since 2010. For families with at least one disabled adult and one disabled child the average loss was an appalling £4,300 per year.
The DBC report sadly confirms that the approach to welfare since Labour left office in 2010 has utterly let down those most in need, and overwhelmingly failed to deliver the aims Ministers have claimed to be seeking. The National Audit Office says the new system costs more to run and that DWP has no evidence its changes have helped anyone into work.
The DBC research contains important recommendations which I will be taking forward in Parliament. This includes rebuilding a disability premium into Universal Credit. I will continue to work with disability and welfare rights organisations to take up their concerns.