Half a million on disability benefits set to lose out under DLA changes

Campaigner David Nicol is 'terrified' at prospect of losing his benefit
Campaigner David Nicol is 'terrified' at prospect of losing his benefit
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A TOTAL of 500,000 disabled people are expected “to lose out” when the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is scrapped, a new report has warned.

The study also criticises the UK government’s attitude to disabled people claiming there has been a £500 million drop in disability support since George Osborne’s 2010 Emergency Budget.

A coalition of disabled people’s organisations and charities called “Hardest Hit” published the new report, The Tipping Point, to examine how people receiving the benefit will be affected when it is dropped.

DLA will be scrapped in April next year to make way for a new Personal Independence Payment. Everyone of working age (18-64) who currently receives DLA will have to be reassessed to see if they are eligible for the new allowance.

The report, due to be published today, will say: “Thousands of very sick and disabled people are being wrongly labelled fit to work under the government’s new scheme.”

It also tells how up to 500,000 people who receive DLA are expected to be excluded for new payments due to changes in the way people’s needs will be assessed.

The study also highlights how many disabled people who are currently able to work fear they would have to give up without the support of the DLA which helps them cover the cost of transport and medical support.

The loss of employees from the workforce could be as high as 50,400, resulting in a possible reduction of £293.3 million in tax receipts to the Treasury, it claims.

Richard Hamer, director of external affairs at the charity Capability Scotland, said: “This damning report highlights the true extent of the hardship disabled people can expect to face as a result of the UK government’s Welfare Reform programme.

“We know Scotland will be particularly hard hit as we have higher proportion of disabled people than the rest of the UK. While these figures may be shocking, they will come as no surprise to many disabled people who have been warning of the consequences of welfare change for months. The government must stop ruthlessly targeting disabled people if it’s to avoid plunging them into an unprecedented state of poverty and social exclusion.”

Campaigner David Nicol, who has cerebral palsy and receives DLA, said many disabled people are “terrified” they will have the benefit cut.

Mr Nicol, 44, of Edinburgh, said: “Things are already a struggle with every penny used to pay bills, many of which are going up, and day-to-day living costs. I rely on DLA and don’t know how I’d survive without it. Many disabled people are very dependent on this allowance and are terrified what lies ahead in the coming months.”

The Department for Work and Pensions had “failed to consider” knock-on effects of scrapping the DLA, the report claims, citing examples such as increased burdens on council-funded care if 500,000 people were to lose benefits.

It argues the £2 billion in savings expected by the government from ending DLA is “overestimated” by potentially £1.6bn.

The report also reveals disabled people are “twice as likely to live in poverty” and only a small loss of income can “tip people with a disability into greater dependence on health and social care services or friends and family”.

People on DLA currently get between £20.55 and £131.50 a week to help with the extra costs caused by a disability.