Chancellor George Osborne today confirmed cuts to Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which Labour say will see 400,000 disabled people lose around £1,400 a year and a further 200,000 kicked out off the benefit completely.
The Department of Work and Pensions wants to cut entitlement for the Daily Living Component of PIP by halving the number of points awarded to disabled people who rely on aids and appliances for some daily living activities, from 2 to 1.
The Government has also recently admitted that it is “considering options for the long-term reform of disability benefits and services”.
In total, the cuts to PIP (<< click the link to discover what is changing) are expected to affect an estimated 640,000 people with disabilities.
Liz Sayce, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said: “It’s a false economy to make cuts in the very areas that enable people to get their lives on track.
“We profoundly believe that disabled people have got so much to contribute to British society. But with the cuts to benefits, social care cuts and now the tighter regulation to PIP, we are really concerned it will jeopardise independent living for disabled people, leaving them socially isolated.”
Mark Atkinson, chief executive at disability charity Scope said: “Today the Chancellor confirmed benefit changes that will make many disabled people’s lives harder.
“We know disabled people are very worried and our helpline has received many calls from anxious disabled people.
“Life costs more if you are disabled – Scope research shows that they add up to on average £550 per month.
“Half of disabled people say that they have struggled to pay the bills because of the extra costs of disability that they face.
“We urge the Chancellor to think again and consider the impact these moves have on the lives of disabled people.”
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Disabled people who rely on PIP for help to get dressed or use the toilet will be worried about the impact this Budget has on their ability to live an independent life.
“People sought our help with 287,000 PIP issues in 2015 – making it the most common issue we give advice on. Many of the problems relate to how PIP is being implemented – included wrong decisions and double booking of medical assessments. It’s premature for the Government to make such a fundamental change to PIP before it’s implemented properly.”
Michelle Mitchell OBE, MS Society CEO, said: “Changes to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will increase anxiety and fear in thousands of people with MS. This is a vital benefit and access to it needs improving – not restricting further.
“These changes will fail to support those that are most in need. We’re deeply concerned and urge the Government not to proceed.”
“Disabled people will be deeply disappointed and worried by the Chancellor’s decision to weaken the support provided by Personal Independence Payment, making it even more difficult to claim.
“People who rely on aids and appliances to help them achieve daily activities like dressing themselves, or to avoid an episode of incontinence clearly need financial support to help them maintain their independence and participate in society.
“These changes could have harmful consequences for the health and independence of the 640,000 affected disabled people, and significant cost implications for the NHS and local authority social care services as a result.
“The prospect of further reform will add to the concerns of disabled people about the support they will be able to receive. Any future changes must do much more to improve access to support for disabled people, rather than chiselling it away.”
Heléna Herklots, CEO of Carers UK, said: “Whilst the Budget has some welcome measures including confirming carers’ exemption from the benefit cap and support with savings, we’re gravely concerned about the continued cuts to disability benefits which directly impact on carers’ finances and the chronic underfunding of social care on which so many carers and their families rely for vital support.
“Carers will be disappointed that there is little recognition or investment in support to enable them to care.
“It’s time that we looked at investing more in families who care and making sure that they are able to care without sacrificing their own wellbeing and financial security if they care for a relative who is disabled or seriously ill.”
Responding to the Budget, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said: “While over half a million people with disabilities are losing over £1 billion in personal independence payments corporations are being handed billions in tax cuts to the wealthy.”
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Owen Smith MP, says the cuts to PIP to will take £4.5bn from disabled people by 2020/21.
To be clear, by 2021 cuts to PIP to will take £4.5bn from disabled people needing support with toilet or getting dressed #Budget2016
— Owen Smith (@OwenSmith_MP) March 16, 2016
On Child Poverty
Child Poverty Action Group Chief Executive Alison Garnham said: “This Budget puts the next generation last and set to be the poorest generation for decades. The Chancellor ignored both the 3.7m children in poverty now and the fact that according to IFS projections we face the biggest increase in child poverty in a generation.
“The Chancellor delivered some big investments for the better off but there was little here for hard-up parents trying to get better off by earning more. Children were prioritised behind business groups who got costly tax cuts.
“Increasing the personal tax allowance is an expensive way to badly target help for the low paid. It is simply not a social justice measure when 85 per cent of the £2 billion the Treasury spends goes to the top half and a third goes to the top 10 per cent. For every £1000 the personal tax allowance goes up, basic rate taxpayers gain £200, but Universal Credit rules will claw back 65 per cent of that gain from the low paid, leaving them only gaining a maximum of £70 a year.
“Improving children’s life chances starts with ensuring families have enough money. That means restoring cuts to Universal Credit – which from April will hit the very same working families as would have been hit by the now abandoned tax credit cuts – and re-investing in children’s benefits.”
Gingerbread Chief Executive Fiona Weir said: “This was an opportunity for the government to help some of the poorest in society make ends meet, including the UK’s two million single parent families.
“Unfortunately that hasn’t happened, despite the Chancellor telling us his Budget would “do the right thing” and “put the next generation first. The reality is that this Budget does little to help those that need the most, while giving a helping hand to those that need it the least.
“Much mileage will be given to the Chancellor’s savings announcements, but when single parents are forced to borrow money from friends and family in order to cover the cost of childcare, what good is a lifetime ISA? What good is an increase to the personal tax allowance if you’re earning below the threshold, or forced to work on a zero hours contract? And what good is infrastructure investment when a gaping hole remains in childcare funding?
“Before the Chancellor stood up to deliver his Budget the UK’s two million single parents were already set to be the group hardest hit by the government’s welfare changes. Today’s announcements have done nothing to change that harsh reality, or tackle the expected doubling of child poverty in single parent families.
“To really help some of the lowest paid, the government should increase the amount people are allowed to earn before universal credit is withdrawn and slow down the rate at which it is reduced as people’s earnings increase. This would help ensure a clear gain for every extra hour worked, and go some way to stopping the expected rise of in-work poverty.”
Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “We welcome today’s commitment to help more people off the streets and out of hostels. Rough sleeping has more than doubled since 2010 and these vital funds are needed now more than ever.
“The announcement of funding for Housing First is particularly welcome. This is something that Crisis has been calling for and offers a real opportunity to end homelessness for some of the most vulnerable people.
“Nevertheless, if the Government is serious about tackling homelessness, it needs to go much further than this. Without stronger action, including a change in the law and the funding to make it work, these measures do little to tackle the underlying problems, both in the law and with conditions in the housing market.
“The law as it stands means that single homeless people who go to their councils for help are often turned away to sleep on the streets – cold, desperate and forgotten. It’s a scandal that someone in this situation can be told they’re not vulnerable enough for help.
“The scale of the task is enormous: all forms of homelessness continue to rise and many of the underlying causes remain.
“We strongly urge the government to follow through on its commitment to consider options – including legislation – to prevent more people from becoming homeless. It is essential that all homeless people can get the help they need and that councils get the necessary funding to deliver on this.”
Howard Sinclair, St Mungo’s Chief Executive, said: “We are pleased the Chancellor has listened to and acted on representations about the rise in rough sleeping. Today’s announcement is welcome news for people sleeping on the streets and those at risk of homelessness.
“Rough sleeping is harmful and dangerous and costs lives. The new funding announced today will help some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. We now need the Prime Minister to lead a cross government strategy to end rough sleeping. People sleeping rough is not inevitable. It is time to stop the scandal of rough sleeping.
“We hope the investment in preventing rough sleeping means more projects like No First Night Out to stop people from being turned away when they ask for help from their council. This should be accompanied by improvements to homelessness legislation to prevent more people from sleeping rough.
“Four in ten people who sleep rough have a mental health problem and from our research, we know they are stuck on the streets for longer. We urge the government to take specific action to reduce the number of people with mental health problems who sleep rough, including investment in specialist teams to coordinate and carry out mental health assessments and support for people sleeping rough, on the street if necessary.
“The Budget also highlights important work to reconnect rough sleepers from outside the UK with services in their home countries when this is their best option. It is essential that the most vulnerable rough sleepers get the best offer of support to help them off the street for good.
“The investment in 2,000 accommodation places for people moving on from hostels is much needed to help free up places for those in greater need, including those currently sleeping rough. We look forward to working on developing the detail with government to ensure the investment delivers the right type of accommodation, in the right places.
“We are also pleased the government has recognised the importance of supported housing and urge ministers to work with the sector to put in place proper, long term protection for this specialist type of accommodation. Without this, efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness will be wasted.”
On Pensions & Savings
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director for Age UK, said: “Knowing you have a secure income to rely on in retirement is very precious, as grandparents often rightly tell their grandchildren, and it will be all the more important for today’s young people because rising longevity means they may well be retired for a long time.
“The question is how best to support every young person to reach a position where they can look ahead to their later life with confidence, not fear.
“Today the Government has announced the introduction of life time ISAs to help the under-40s to save. We accept that the flexibility of a lifetime ISA may be attractive but this must not come at the cost of a proper pension in later life.
“Some experts are already expressing concern that these new life time ISAs could herald the long term demise of private pensions, because they incentivise young people to invest elsewhere.
“If this was to happen it would be a tragedy for future generations and that’s why we think it is crucial that the Government also acts to sustain the attractions of pension saving and continues to give policy priority to automatic enrolment into workplace pensions – an excellent initiative that has got off to a good start and that needs strengthening so it can be even more useful in years to come.”
More comments may be added as they are made available. Comments can also be sent to [email protected]