Tories cut disabled dignity for tax breaks

Adrian Picton, Disabled worker

Tory chancellor George Osborne plans to cut £1.2 billion from benefits which help disabled people live independently.

The Con-Dem coalition brought in ‘Personal Independence Payments’ (PIP) to replace Disability Living Allowance in the hope it would save a lot of money. It cost a huge amount to roll out, and those people who have applied so far have actually been more successful with their claims than originally anticipated.

This has resulted in Osborne deciding to cut the new benefit to save a further £1.2 billion. Current estimates say this will impact 640,000 people by 2020. But once again, Osborne – and Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith – claim it is all about making the benefit ‘fairer’. Clearly it is about making cuts.

The changes to the eligibility criteria planned for next January concern the weight given to the use of aids and appliances. The theory goes that if someone can have a piece of equipment to make it easier to do something, this reduces their disability, and so they don’t need as much help.

However, I would argue that if a person requires the use of specialist equipment to help them get dressed, they are likely to have high needs in other areas. For example, they may be more likely not to be able to do their own housework – something PIP doesn’t account for.

This is just the latest in a long list of attacks against disabled people. In this case, to fund a cut in tax for the super-rich from 45 to 40p in the pound.

It is shameful that the government targets disabled people, many of whom are vulnerable and struggle to speak up for themselves.

As socialists, we believe that disabled people have the right to play a full part in society. Benefits must reflect the extra costs of overcoming the barriers disabled people face. Reverse all cuts to disability support and the welfare state – for well-paid jobs and liveable benefits for all, without compulsion.