The First Cut Is The Deepest....
As if life is not already hard enough for disabled people everywhere, here in the UK the government is currently changing the welfare system, which millions of people rely on, by cutting the budget for state benefits (welfare payments), including child benefits, housing allowances and disability benefits. It seems that disabled people will be amongst the recipients the hardest hit by these new measures. In the Autumn statement of 2012 the Chancellor George Osbourne was misleading disabled people into thinking he was protecting them, when in fact a lot of this demographic group will probably lose around £400 from their benefits over the next three years. This is due to the uprating of most working age benefits by 1% for the next three years, rather than by the rate of inflation.
State benefits (welfare) are in any case barely enough to live off: I know from personal experience that an average claimant of Incapacity Benefit or Disabled Living Allowance will usually only receive around £90-95 per week, after their housing costs are taken care of, which are covered by Housing Benefit (depending on the nature of their condition and how long they are likely to be in receipt of benefits. If they are long-term sick or permanently disabled the amounts are more, although not significantly so). Which means that many disabled people are already living on or below the poverty line, and these new cuts are likely to drive them into an even more desperate situation.
Apparently the Employment and Support Allowance is being introduced which is the replacement for Incapacity Benefit, and it is one of those payments restricted to a 1% rise. It is only given to someone whose illness or disability affects their ability to work.
Certainly it is people with disabilities, the elderly and struggling families who tend to rely heavily on services that are provided by local authorities. Those services, which can take many forms from help with care at home to early intervention services, are already being squeezed, so the outlook is extremely grim, following the news of these latest cuts. Another factor is that the cost of the Disabled Blue Badge for parking has also risen, which again causes hardship to badge-users. The latest increase has been from £3 for processing to £10, which, whilst not a great amount, can have a significant impact on someone already struggling to live on state benefits, and now likely to be struggling even more! I know myself that when you have very little money to live off, a price hike of a few pounds can seem like an awful lot.
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