Budget Impact on Disabled Women

// 8 July 2010

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Jess posted that women will bear the brunt of three-quarters of extra taxes and benefit cuts from the latest budget. Disabled people are also at risk, especially with the proposed changes to benefits, so disabled women will be particularly adversely affected.

In a 2004 study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, on the extra costs of living associated with being disabled, it was found that disabled people living on benefits face a weekly shortfall of £200 compared to the amount required for them to ensure an acceptable, equitable quality of life and minimum standard of living. And those results were for people on maximum benefit levels.

With many people who are too sick to work being ‘pushed into seeking work without any help or support’, and the continuing rolling out of ESA, a system condemned as ‘unfit’ by one of the very people who designed it, along with proposed ‘savings’ (by which we mean cuts) to Disability Living Allowance (DLA), many disabled people living on benefits will be even more limited.

The cost of living for everybody, as well as the particular extra costs of living for disabled people, continues to rise, and will do so especially with the increase in VAT. As benefits are frozen and essentially cut, disabled women in particular will be seriously adversely affected.

For working disabled women, there will also be more problems. The Joseph Rowntree report found that disabled people with high-medium needs would find themselves with a shortfall of £80 a week, not even including possible PA costs. Add to this that more disabled people tend to work in the public sector than the private sector, where cuts are of course being made, and the situation is frightening. In addition, disabled people who work can claim Disability Living Allowance, so cuts and limitations will affect them too. In fact, some working people can only work because of the way they use their DLA to cover additional costs, so cutting that could well mean that some working disabled people would have to stop work, and claim benefits.

The proposed budgetary changes threaten to send many more women into poverty. They threaten to send many more disabled people into poverty. So for disabled women? It is a very scary time indeed.

Comments From You

Amy Clare // Posted 9 July 2010 at 12:44 pm

Thanks for writing this, Philippa.

The ConDems are giving entirely the wrong impression of DLA with this budget. What your average Joe/Josephine Public probably doesn’t know is that the vast majority of DLA claimants *already* have to have a medical assessment to decide whether they’ll be awarded benefit. There are few exceptions. What the ConDems are proposing is actually a new type of assessment using a ‘points’ system similar to the one used for ESA (and we all know how well that’s worked out!). Goalpost moving, essentially. All the while giving the impression that getting DLA is currently easy.

In order to justify their plans, the govt have claimed that DLA is ‘open to abuse’ and cite the rising number of successful claims as ‘evidence’ of this. When the rise could be because of any number of things, for example people being more aware of the benefit, and more aware that ‘disability’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘wheelchair bound’.

This article is an interesting analysis of the impression the govt is giving of disability benefit claimants: http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/blogs/2010/07/05/coalition-begins-smear-campaign-against-dla-claimants/

Even on the Guardian site, commenters have been spewing hate about benefits claimants and claiming that they ‘know someone’ who is ‘faking’ their illness so everyone else ‘must be at it’ and so on. It makes for frightening reading.

I believe that disability hate crime (which has been blogged about on TFW) is partly related to this very common public impression of sick and disabled people as ‘scroungers’. Every person with a chronic illness or disability has experienced the attitude that they must be lazy and are getting ‘something for nothing’, and the govt are stoking these flames with their misleading claims about DLA. Shame on them.

Also, disabled women are of course more at risk of domestic abuse if they lose their financial independence due to their benefits being cut.

Philippa Willitts // Posted 9 July 2010 at 12:53 pm

Thanks Amy Clare, all really good points, especially the domestic abuse one. People don’t realise that to get DLA at the moment you have to fill out 59 A4 pages of very intrusive, depressing details, and they check with every doctor and health professional involved in your care. It’s hardly an ‘easy’ one to get. Not that any of them have been, in my experience.

Josie // Posted 9 July 2010 at 1:59 pm

I suffer from ME and mental health problems and have been looking into how the budget will affect me. I’m already mid-way through an appeal over ESA (scored 0 points…) and waiting lists for NHS treatment are years long. I’m really worried about the effect of the changes to DLA and housing benefit. By reading this (http://aethelreadtheunread.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/housing-benefit-reform-the-view-from-the-bshf/) about housing benefit reform it’s looking like if i stay living in the cheap room where i live i’ll end up having to pay £35 a week of my own rent out of ESA and DLA…. and with ME and MH problems being ‘invisible disabilities’ (and therefore really hard to prove in medical assessments that i’m not making them up!) i’m very frightened for the future. I’ve only just escaped homelessness (thanks to a string of beenfit problems) – i don’t want to be in that position again!

Louise // Posted 9 July 2010 at 2:51 pm

I think I’m missing something… Why will the impact be greater for disabled women than disabled men?

Philippa Willitts // Posted 9 July 2010 at 3:33 pm

Because we already know from Jess’s post that women will be hit disproportionately. Disabled women will be affected as women and as disabled people, as will other people facing multiple discriminatons.

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