The ‘omnishambles’ that is the Coalition government shambles on. Today’s revelation is that the scrapping of Disability Living Allowance will not only mean that 50,000 disabled people who are in work will have to leave their jobs, but also that this means a loss of £293.3 million in tax receipts to the UK Treasury.
The information is in a report by The Hardest Hit, a collection of 90 disabled peoples’ organisations and charities.
Variables make calculating exact figures impossible but the report states that the Department for Work and Pensions has failed to consider the knock-on effects of its plan to save £2 billion by scrapping DLA and introducing the new PIP, or Personal Independence Payment.
Forecasts suggest half a million disabled people will lose their benefits, but the expected savings will be cancelled out by the loss in tax revenue, implementation costs and the increased burden on council services such as care – meaning the planned saving has been overestimated by around £1.6 billion.
The total amount saved would therefore be around £800 per claimant, equivalent to less than a month’s pay for an average-earning person in full-time work. If my calculations are correct, it would cover the government’s debt payments for almost six days.
But the effect on the people losing benefit would be catastrophic. According to the report:
85 per cent claim losing their DLA would drive them into isolation, and would leave them struggling to manage their condition.
95 per cent fear that losing DLA would be detrimental to their health.
More than three quarters (78 per cent) of disabled people said their health got worse as a result of the stress caused by their Work Capability Assessment (WCA) for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Two-thirds (65 per cent) of disabled people felt that ESA assessors did not understand their condition
Nearly 9 in 10 (87 per cent) welfare advisors said the constant re-assessments for benefits are damaging people’s health (and we have all seen the evidence for this in the appalling death toll that now stands at 73 people per week, on average).
90 per cent of welfare advisors said that too many disabled people are slipping through the net and are left without adequate support by the welfare system.
The number of disability hate crimes in England and Wales is increasing dramatically and a survey reveals plummeting levels of public support for benefits for disabled people who cannot work (thanks, I understand, to a government-fuelled hate campaign in the right-wing press). The report highlights that disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty and even a small loss of income can tip them into greater dependence on health and social care services or friends and family.
And around 450,000 disabled households are set to lose out under the new Universal Credit (UC) system. For example, 100,000 families with disabled children stand to lose up to £28 a week.
For more details, read the full report, entitled The Tipping Point.
To me, this seems like a huge expense of time, energy and money to victimise an already-suffering minority for a negligible return – almost as great an effort as that being made in not recovering the money the UK Treasury fails to take in evaded and avoided taxes which, it is believed, could total £120 billion per year.
That’s 300 times what the government is likely to save by scrapping DLA.