Call for a Cumulative Impact Assessment
Author: Catherine Hale
This is the text of a letter to my MP Rt Hon Joan Ruddock MP. It sets out some of the major issues confronting me and other disabled people like me.
May I please urge you to support the Opposition Day Debate on Wednesday 10th July calling for a Cumulative Impact Assessment of the government’s cuts to disabled people’s support and livelihoods. The government continues to deny the fact that its austerity measures target disabled people far more than any other group in society, according to research by Demos and the Centre for Welfare Reform.
This issue is of crucial significance to me as a long term sufferer of severe ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. As trustee of the Camberwell ME Support Group I have seen the devastation wrought by a tidal wave of cuts and 'reforms' to sickness and disability benefits on our 160 members - meaning increased poverty and hardship for people with ME/CFS across SE London.
To name a few of these misnamed 'reforms':
ESA: The time limit of 12 months on contributory sickness benefit (Employment and Support Allowance) means severely and chronically ill people lose all financial support after one year. Some face having to sell their homes and many become entirely financially dependent on their partner. Those who care for a loved one with ME/CFS face additional financial strain and relationships suffer as a result.
PIP: Personal Independence Payments, the new benefit to replace Disability Living Allowance, is expressly designed to reduce eligibility and cut payments towards the extra cost of living incurred by disabled people by 20%. In particular support will be reduced to people with significant mobility difficulties, leaving a predicted 430,000 people them trapped in their homes. Our members fear being even more isolated by their illness, more dependent on relatives or carers just to get to their GP or to a shop.
WCA: the government has failed to reform the 'Work Capability Assessment' to make it fair for people with fluctuating conditions such as ME/CFS, as recommended by Professor Harrington. Our members have been incorrectly assessed on a large scale, left waiting months for their appeal to receive the correct level of benefit. Many are suffering anxiety and depression due to the callous nature of assessment process and the stress of appeals that compounds their health condition.
Plus: Add to this the 'bedroom tax'; the reductions in Council Tax Benefit; the benefits uprating bill of just 1%; the forthcoming impact of Universal Credit which will remove the severe disability premium for single people and lone parents, as well as placing greater conditionality on claimants’ benefits.
The sense of despair that our livelihoods are under attack from all sides is very real among our members. Some have reported feeling suicidal. This is before even taking into account cuts to Local Authority grants which mean reductions in adult social care for the most severely disabled.
As Dr Duffy writes:
The cuts target people in poverty, disabled people and people with the most severe disabilities, those using social care.
Taken from Briefing on How The Cuts Target Disabled People. Full Analysis: A Fair Society? How the cuts target disabled people.
Please see the attached briefings [see the links above and at the side] for more explanation and illustration of how the cuts unfairly target disabled people, especially those dependent on adult social care services.
I am very grateful to Liam Byrne MP for securing the debate on 10th July to discuss how the government’s changes are affecting disabled people.
I hope you will back the motion calling for a Cumulative Impact Assessment by October 2013.
The publisher is The Centre for Welfare Reform.
Call for a Cumulative Impact Assessment © Catherine Hale 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.