Families face 'years of anxiety' as disability benefit changes

Published on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 16:13
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

Carers UK has warned that the start of changes to disability benefits this week marks the start of 'years of anxiety' for families caring for disabled people as hundreds of thousands face losing support.

For people of working age, Government is replacing Disability Living Allowance, the main benefit for disabled people which gives support for the extra costs of disability, with a new benefit – Personal Independence Payment. The changes are being rolled out gradually and will not be complete until 2018.

The new benefit will include a new, tougher assessment, and Government figures estimate that this would lead to 600,000 fewer disabled people receiving support by the time the changes are complete in 2018.

The Government has committed to review the changes in 2015, but even the first stage of implementation of Personal Independence Payment will mean that 300,000 fewer disabled people will be entitled to support by 2015.

Carers UK has also highlighted analysis published by the Government in February, which shows that almost 10,000 fewer carers will be able to receive Carer's Allowance because the person they care for will not have entitlement to support under the new system.

Emily Holzhausen, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Carers UK said: "We are deeply concerned that the Government's objectives of simplifying disability benefits are being undermined by cost-cutting. Demographic change means that, as people live longer with long-term conditions and disabilities, more and more families need support to help with the financial impact of disability. Cutting and freezing budgets to support these families will leave many without the help they need.

The wider impact on families of disabled people must be taken into account. Not only could this push families into financial crisis, but if you withdraw support which helps disabled people live independently and hit families with the devastating double blow of losing carers and disability benefits simultaneously – the wider social and financial costs will be much greater in the long-term."

Carers UK has produced essential advice resources including a plain-English guide to the benefit changes and new Factsheets for carers and disabled people on the new shape of disability benefits.

Emily Holzhausen, said: "Families across the country now face years of anxiety as they await a reassessment of whether they are entitled to support. It is essential that families are given advice and support as they prepare for reassessments and can access help to appeal decisions if they lose support."

Source: Carers UK

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