The SNP’s Westminster Social Justice spokesperson has echoed concerns raised in a new report which highlights that disabled people across the UK are facing “substantial costs” for their cost of living, due in part to the UK government’s flawed social security system.
The report published by the disability charity Scope, found that on average disabled people face extra costs of £570 a month related to their condition – with the figure rising to £632 in Scotland. The findings also show that for every one in five disabled people, extra costs amount to over £1,000 per month.
Neil Gray MP warned that the current Personal Independence Payment (PIP) infrastructure is simply not fit for purpose, and that the UK government’s “tick-box exercises” are failing people with disabilities across the UK, and ignoring many aspects of their experience living with a disability.
The SNP MP pointed to Scottish Government plans to put in place the necessary infrastructure to take on responsibility for the provision of PIP assessments, as well as creating a new social security system in Scotland based on dignity and respect.
The Scope report concluded that the UK government must commit to reforms of the assessment for PIP to ensure it accurately captures the type and level of extra costs faced by disabled people, so that individuals receive the support they need to help meet those costs.
In October last year, the SNP Scottish Government found that based on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to PIP re-assessment outcomes, around 30,000 disabled people in Scotland could lose entitlement to non-means-tested disability benefits once the full rollout is complete.
Last month, the UK government was forced to backtrack after losing a High Court ruling on PIP before Christmas. The ruling sought to ensure that hundreds of thousands of people with mental health issues be able to access higher Personal Independence Payments.
Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive at disability charity Scope, said: “Life costs more if you are disabled.
Disabled people often have to buy equipment that other people don’t.
“Sometimes their condition means disabled people have no choice but to use more of something, like heating. In other cases, they are charged extortionate rates for things like insurance.
“We’ve heard shocking stories – £15 for a knife, £600 for a wheelchair battery, and £1,200 for a reclining chair – from disabled people all over the country about how much more they are paying.
“Scope research shows that on average all these costs add up to a ‘disability price tag’ of an extra £570 per month.
“We need a complete rethink on how we tackle this issue and how Government, businesses, markets and the public work and interact with disabled people.”
Neil Gray MP said: “The report’s findings are yet another indictment of a Tory government that has failed disabled people in Scotland and across the UK – the Tory government has shamefully shifted the burden of its ideological austerity agenda onto the most disadvantaged people in society.
“It’s clear that living with a disability comes with many necessary additional living costs, however it is concerning that on average disabled people must spend half of their income on disability-related costs. The UK government’s PIP and ESA process is inherently flawed, and the whole system of disability assessments needs a complete overhaul.
“The SNP Scottish Government has already said then when it comes to PIP, the assessments will not be close to the UK government’s routine tick-box exercises – which ignores many aspects of a person’s experience living with their disability.
“Instead, the Scottish Government is putting in place the necessary infrastructure to take on responsibility for the provision of PIP assessments – reducing the need for face to face assessments and focus on getting decisions right in the first place – as well as creating a new social security system in Scotland based on dignity and respect.
“We know that the UK government’s decision to use private providers for assessments has been a major mistake. That is why the Scottish Government has committed to ending the private sector’s role in the provision of disability assessments.
“There is mounting evidence that the UK government’s current system is not just failing people with disabilities, but actively punishing them. Like with other disability benefits, the Tories are forcing disabled people to bear the brunt of the impact of austerity by slowly eroding the value of benefits. The UK government must take heed of this report’s findings and act before it’s too late.”