Ten Attacks on Disabled People's Rights

Simon Duffy provides an overview of the main strategies being used to undermine the human rights of disabled people in the UK.

Author: Simon Duffy on behalf of 10,000 Cuts & Counting

UK Government policy has targeted disabled people for cuts - that's disabled children, disabled adults, war veterans and the elderly. Few people understand the severity or the breadth of the problem. Here is an overview with some key facts:

1. The cuts program has targeted disabled people. Someone with severe disabilities faces cuts 19 times greater than the average person by a combination of benefit, housing and social care cuts.[1]

2. Social care faces the deepest cuts of all - local services for people with severe disabilities, including the elderly - are being cut by 33% by 2015.[1] 433,000 people have already missed out on adult social care services - this is the cause of the current crisis in our hospitals.[2]

3. The Independent Living Fund is being closed down - this means 19,373 people with severe disabilities will now lose their direct entitlement for money to support their independence.[3]

4. The UK is the third most unequal country in the developed world.[4] The new benefit system disconnects income from growth (and even inflation), these changes guarantee that the poorest will get poorer and inequality will grow year on year.[5]

5. Cuts in housing benefit and the introduction of the bedroom tax are further impoverishing disabled people and forcing people to leave their own homes. 420,000 disabled people or their families will each lose an average of £728 per year.[6]

6. At the same time the government’s subsidy to home owners through an artificially low interest rate has created an annual subsidy of £33 billion for home owners, with most of this subsidy only benefiting the richest 20%. Over five years this subsidy to home owners is worth £170 billion.[7]

7. Disability Living Allowance (DLA) helps people who have serious health conditions and disabilities to live independently - this includes people with arthritis, learning disabilities, psychosis, terminal illness and dementia. It will now be replaced with Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and 500,000 people will lose individual entitlements worth an average of £3,000 per year.[8]

8. The new system of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) has been designed to save £2 billion pounds by introducing means-testing, and taking away rights for people who become disabled after many years of paying taxes, thus driving people unnecessarily into poverty.[9]

9. The government’s Work Programme will cost up to £5 billion, just to fund organisations to help people find work. The programme has a very low success rate and only 'helps' 5% of disabled people find work - this figure is so low that it's likely that doing nothing (and saving £5 billion) would have been more effective.[10]

10. Instead of trusting disabled people and family doctors, the government has set up a contract with a private French medical firm Atos. This disastrous policy has fuelled an increase of 200% in tribunals appealing social security decisions since 2010. Today 42% of appeals are successful.[11] Citizen Advice recently reported a 67% increase in disability benefit problems.[12]


[1] Duffy S (2013) A Fair Society? How the cuts target disabled people. Sheffield, The Centre for Welfare Reform.

[2] Health and Social Care Information Centre (2013) Community Care Statistics, Social Services Activity: England 2012-13, Provisional Release. Health and Social Care Information Centre.

[3] Gheera M & Long R (2013) Independent Living Fund. London, House of Commons Library

[3] Early Day Motion 651: Independent Living Fund. London, Parliament

[4] Wilkinson R and Pickett K (2010) The Spirit Level Why Equality is better for Everyone. London, Penguin.

[5] Autumn Statement 2012: Chancellor’s statement

[5] Baumberg B (2011) Cuts to UK Benefits. Sheffield, The Centre for Welfare Reform

[6] DWP (2013) Housing Benefit: Size Criteria for People Renting in the Social Rented Sector. London, DWP.

[7] Duffy S (2013) The Hidden Housing Subsidy. Sheffield, The Centre for Welfare Reform.

[8] Kennedy S (2012) Personal Independence Payment: an introduction. London, House of Commons Library.

[8] DWP (2012) Personal Independence Payment - Reassessment and Impacts. London, DWP

[8] Duffy S (2013) A Fair Society? how the cuts target disabled people. Sheffield, The Centre for Welfare Reform.

[8] DWP (2011) Disability living allowance: how it breaks down. The Guardian Data Blog.

[8] Duffy S (2013) Impact of PIP on Social Care. Sheffield, The Centre for Welfare Reform.

[9] McInnes R (2012) ESA and Incapacity Benefit Statistics. House of Commons Library.

[9] http://www.iea.org.uk/blog/the-opponents-of-the-esa-cuts-are-right-for-the-wrong-reason

[9] HM Treasury (2010) Spending Review. London, HM Treasury.

[9] Duffy S (2013) Thoughts on ESA. Sheffield, The Centre for Welfare Reform.

[10] ERSA (2013) Work Programme Performance Report. London, ERSA

[10] CESI (2013) Work Programme statistics: Inclusion analysis. London, CESI

[10] McGuinness F (2013) Work Programme. House of Commons Library.

[11] Ministry of Justice (2013) Tribunals Statistics Quarterly (including Employment Tribunals and EAT) London, Ministry of justice.

[12] http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/index/pressoffice/press_index/press_20130117.htm

The publisher is The Centre for Welfare Reform.

Ten Attacks on Disabled People's Rights © Simon Duffy 2013.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher except for the quotation of brief passages in reviews.

Article | 22.09.13

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