Financial statement: protect Disabled people’s rights and lives
This briefing is from Disabled People’s Organisations Forum – a coalition of 40 Deaf and Disabled people’s led organisations working in different regions of England.
We are horrified at a prospect of any future cuts to public services and the impact those will have on Disabled people. Disabled people still face multiple barriers to equal life and often need support, including from public services, for example social care support, to live an equal life. In the current situation of the rising cost of living, we are certain further cuts to already minimal support that Disabled people get will lead to devastating consequences, including serious deterioration of people’s quality of life, physical and mental wellbeing and the loss of lives. We are calling on the government to show strategic leadership and compassion and protect Disabled people’s lives, livelihoods and rights by preventing further cuts to essential support and committing targeted support to help Disabled people survive through the cost of living crisis.
We are asking you as a member of parliament to stand up for the rights, livelihoods and lives of Disabled people.
- Protect services that are essential to Disabled people’s equality, independence, choice and control by talking about the impact of further cuts to public services on Disabled people and voting against any measures that would lead to cuts to essential support for Disabled people;
- Push the government to conduct a thorough Cumulative Impact Assessment on any proposed public spending cuts and take positive steps to mitigate any disproportionate impact on Disabled people.
- Raise concern in debates and lobby the government to support Disabled people in the cost of living crisis and lobby for:
- Increase benefits in line with inflation.
- Protect non-means tested nature of PIP, DLA, AA.
- Stop councils taking people’s disability benefits to pay for social care.
- Protect Disabled people and families from eviction.
- Put in place targeted support for those who have higher energy bills;
- Abolish “no recourse to public funds”.
Background information and evidence: We all want to live in a society where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, where people do not starve, freeze or struggle in squalid conditions because they cannot afford food, heating or care services.
Disabled people were among the hardest hit by cuts to public services and changes to welfare benefits since 2010.
There is a growing body of evidence that real term reduction in health and social care spending since 2010 led to tens of thousands of excess deaths.
The research by Disability Benefits Consortium found that Disabled people were four times worse off as a result of welfare benefits changes from 2010 compared to non-disabled people on average losing £1200 per year with those who have highest support needs losing £2100 in benefits income. Households in London with one child and at least one Disabled person lost £3800 per year on average.
The study by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that Disabled people with high support needs, especially single mothers and other lone parents and single mothers of colour were among the groups who lost the most financially as a result of cuts to public services and changes to welfare.
Massive reduction to community services and support led to devastating consequences to Disabled people’s rights and opportunities
Disabled single mothers are more at risk of our children being taken into care, as poverty is wrongly treated as neglect. Funding for keeping families together was cut while “child protection” spending has massively increased.
Cuts to Special Educational needs Budgets1 a shortage of educational specialists5 difficulties with retaining essential SEN-focused staff6 push increasing number o9f Disabled children into segregated education. Further cuts to education budgets will impact on Disabled children disproportionately.
As a result the UN Committee on the rights of Persons with Disabilities has found austerity measures to cause gross and systemic violations of Disabled people’s human rights.
Disabled people suffered the most during Covid pandemic
The pandemic starkly highlighted attitudes towards Disabled People and led many of us to question whether our lives are of an equal value with rationing of medical treatment, imposition of advance “do not resuscitate” notes. Disabled people accounted for 60% of COVID-related deaths. After social care was deprioritised by the Coronavirus Act, the death rate of people on the homecare register doubled or even tripled in some areas, mostly not from COVID.
Since then, support and access to services has dramatically reduced, leaving many in isolation, financially worse and threatened for their life. Disabled workers were over-represented among redundancies during the pandemic and 2 million Disabled people on legacy benefits did not benefit at all from the temporary £20 uplift to Universal Credit.
Disabled people are among the most affected by the cost of living crisis
Even before the crisis 4 million Disabled people lived in poverty. And six in ten people referred to foodbanks were Disabled and over 600,000 Disabled people had less than £10 per day for food and essentials.
Now the rising cost of living is leaving Disabled people in dire poverty and forcing many to make an impossible choice between heating, eating or getting essential support with meeting basic needs.
- 55% struggle to pay their energy bills and despite Ofgem guidance some are being forced onto more expensive pre-payment smart meters
- 90.000 are in social care charging debt and many more are stopping their essential support because they cannot afford it.
- A survey by Greater Manchester Disabled People’s Panel in 2022 revealed that ‘one in five Disabled people can’t afford essentials…Disabled people are being “forgotten and effectively abandoned”, forced to rely on foodbanks, and having to cut back on how much they eat.
- 36% Disabled people find it difficult to pay their mortgage or rent.
- Pressures are particularly acute for Disabled asylum seekers who are excluded from mainstream benefits. Asylum support is only £40.85 per week with no additional element for the extra costs of being Disabled, and no right to work.
The cost of living increase has a disproportionate negative impact on Disabled women (particularly single mothers), disabled children, Disabled carers, Disabled people of colour, Disabled people with complex needs, people given mental health diagnosis, Disabled people living in rural areas and older Disabled people.
Extra Cost of Disability
There continue to be many barriers in society which lead to Disabled people having to pay for compensating for the impact of those barriers. Such as buying specialist equipment and technology, paying for extra support, paying more for energy and other utilities, spending more on clothes, special food, technology, travel. Scope’s research estimated on average Disabled people facing £599 in extra costs per month, and one in five facing extra cost of over £1,000. With an increase in the cost of living, the cost of disability increases too.
- Inclusion London
- Disabled People Against Cuts
- Shaping Our Lives
- WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities) / Disabled Mothers’ Rights Campaign
- Bristol Reclaiming Independent Living [BRIL]
- Cheshire Disabled People Against Cuts
- Disability Positive
- Bromley Experts By Experience
- Birmingham Disability Resource Centre
- WECIL (West of England Centre for Inclusive Living)
- Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance (ROFA)
- Equal Lives
- South Gloucestershire Disability Equality Network
- Liberation for people experiencing mental distress/trauma
 By Disabled people we mean people with physical, sensory, neurological and other impairments, people with learning difficulties or autism, people with experience of mental distress/trauma and other people with impairments or health conditions who face disabling barriers in society.
 Lewer, D., & Bibby, J. (2021). Cuts to local government funding and stalling life expectancy. Retrieved from https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(21)00136-5/fulltext
 Disability Benefits Consortium (2019). The impact of welfare changes on disabled people, https://disabilitybenefitsconsortium.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/disability-benefits-consortium-cumulative-impact-report.pdf
 The HERC. (2018(. The Cumulative impact of tax and welfare reforms. https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/cumulative-impact-assessment-report.pdf
 Special educational needs in England. [online] 24 June. Available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/special-educational-needs-in-england
 Moreover, current UN Special Rapporteur, Olivier de Schutter. He has described the current time as the worst possible time for more austerity in the UK and has emphasised that further austerity could (again) violate human rights.
 ONS (2020). Coronavirus (COVID-19) related deaths by disability status, England and Wales: 2 March to 14 July 2020. [online] Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/articles/coronaviruscovid19relateddeathsbydisabilitystatusenglandandwales/2marchto14july2020
 ONS (2021). Coronavirus and redundancies in the UK labour market: September to November 2020. [online]. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/articles/labourmarketeconomicanalysisquarterly/december2020#redundancies-among-different-groups-of-employees-and-industries
 ONS (2022). Impact of increased cost of living on adults across Great Britain: June to September 2022. Available at https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/expenditure/articles/impactofincreasedcostoflivingonadultsacrossgreatbritain/junetoseptember2022
 Jayanetti, C (2022) 87,000 people can’t keep up with care bills as cost of living soars, Open Democracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/cost-of-living-social-care-bills-people-cant-pay-exclusive-england/
 Scope, (2019). The disability price tag.