Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Are disabled people protected from Government cuts?

Guest post by Sarah Campbell (@spoonydoc) on actual situation on disability benefits & whether they are, in fact, protected from the 1% freeze on benefits. 

The Autumn Statement and Disability Benefits

You might quite rightly be mistaken in thinking that disabled people came out quite safe and sound from this year's autumn statement. After all our chancellor announced that although restrictions were going to have to be made to most welfare benefits, disabled people and carers would be supported and disability/carer benefits would not be affected.

The problem is that in the next breath he announced that, along with most other working age benefits, ESA would be included in the restriction to a 1% annual growth for the next 3 years. Well below the rate of inflation this amounts to a cut in real terms.

ESA is mostly paid to disabled people who are too sick to work. To qualify for this benefit they have to have undergone rigorous testing and passed the much maligned WCA (Work Capability Assessment) administered by ATOS and been classed as unfit for work. Some are considered to be able to work again at some time in the future (possibly years). These are put in the WRAG (Work Related Activity Group). Others are considered too ill or disabled ever to work again and are put in the Support Group.

So how can the chancellor be promising disability benefits be exempt when ESA is included in the cuts?

Well turning to the small print of the Treasury Costings (p33) we see the following:

“The following benefits, tax credits and payments will be up-rated by 1 per cent for 3 years from 2013-14:
• The main elements of Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support, applicable amounts for Housing Benefit;
It will not apply to the premia within these benefits relating to disability, pensioners, and caring responsibilities, the support group component of ESA, or the disability elements in tax credits, which will be uprated as usual.”
A claim for ESA comprises:

A main element of ESA (the bulk of the benefit)
A Support Group component or WRAG component (Anyone unfit for work gets one of these after passing the WCA)
Any relevant disability premiums (not everyone qualifies for these)So what does this mean?

For both WRAG and Support group claimants the main element part will only rise by 1%.
For WRAG claimants the WRAG component will only rise by 1%
For Support Group claimants the Support component will rise by inflation.
For both WRAG and Support Group claimants any disability premiums will rise by inflation.


WRAG claimants who do not receive disability premiums will see their benefit restricted to 1% growth for 3 years.
All Support Group claimants and those WRAG claimants who receive disability premiums will see their benefit restricted to a growth slightly higher than 1% but still significantly lower than inflation. In fact it works out at approximately 1.4% according to DRUK.
ESA claimants are seriously ill and disabled people who have fairly and genuinely been found unfit for work. The statement that disabled people will be supported and disability benefits will be unaffected is totally and unequivocally untrue. It is high time that someone stood up and said so.


  1. It's very depressing. At least the labour party (and some lib dem MPs) are standing up for the 99%. It's not much - but it's hopefully a sign of the tide changing. (At one time the labour party would have opposed this on the grounds 1% was too generous)

  2. i heard the debate on TV but i found the rhetoric just the same as before with no let up in sight and many will die as a result in being found fit for work but aren't and subsequently dying

    how much longer this will go on is unclear but with every mp failing to address this it will probably go on indefinitely so that in say the next ten years most will have died

  3. And think of all the future people dying because there is nothing to help them when they do fall ill. It's not just the first wave of people. It will be ongoing. I don't think many people realise just how badly they will be affected if they lose their jobs due to health problems. But hopefully the awareness is becoming more widespread and healthy people will join sick ones to fight this evil callous govt.

  4. Not good enough you are going to lose around £3 a week. 60% of the population get more in welfare then contribute in tax terms.

    RIP GB

    1. Whether or not you agree with the bill is beside the point.

      The public and the HoC were told that disability benefits would not be affected. The BBC and most media outlets are still reporting this and even worse, many MPs still appear to believe it.

      The fact that a bill was voted through on false pretenses is a disgrace.

  5. "WRAG claimants who do not receive disability premiums will see their benefit restricted to 1% growth for 3 years."

    Except WRAG claims are now limited to 12 months, so they won't be on it for 3 years. Just good old JSA for them.

    The DWP doesn't like you to use the word "disabled" to describe ESA, because apparently not all claimants would consider themselves disabled (such as those with a medium-term condition from which they expect to recover, cancer patients, etc.).

    I flat out told the one civil servant that I was speaking to that I couldn't accept this line of argument. Regardless of whether these people consider themselves disabled, by most reasonable definitions of the term they ARE. If being labelled disabled is a bad thing, I'd suggest that societal and government attitudes are to blame, not the bloody dictionary.

    1. Contributions based WRAG claims are limited to 12 months after which it becomes income based.

      While I would agree the income limit is stupidly low (if a partner earns just £7500pa you become ineligible), many people will still be eligible for income based WRAG after their initial 12 months are up.

  6. It's also important to note that disabled people are more likely to be in low paying or part time work, and therefore require in work benefits, but may not be in receipt of DLA as they don't fulfil the stringent care or mobility criteria.

    JSA claimants will also include many disabled people who do not meet the criteria for ESA, or don't want to be on ESA as they don't consider themselves "sick" or unable to work.

    Some 1/6 people are disabled or chronically ill, and far fewer than this are on disability specific benefits. However a disproportionate number of disabled people ARE unemployed or low waged so require benefit support, so there will be a significant hidden impact of 1% cap on benefits amongst disabled people.

    1. The government's own impact assessment acknowledges this. A household with a disabled member is far more likely to be impacted by this bill than one without. Their reasoning is that such a household is more likely to be in receipt of other benefits affected by the bill or on low wages as you quite rightly point out.

      However they yet again fail to point out that ESA is DIRECTLY affected by the bill, affecting 1 million disabled people straight out of the blocks. I strongly feel this lie needs to be addressed.

  7. It is advisable not to attempt to settle your claims with your insurance agency on your own. This is because you might not be familiar with all the categories of compensatory rights that you are entitled to. Research has also proved that the odds of winning a case represented by a disability lawyers are much more compared to those without legal representation.

    thanks a lot for sharing

  8. Many working people will only get a 1% rise per year. It's right that the Government should cut disabled benefits - many so-called disabled rake in hundreds of pounds tax-free a week, plus a car & free parking - a nice lilttle earner!

    1. john
      i am a renowned expert in the benefit system having studded it for 33 years
      what you say many so-called disabled rake in hundreds of pounds tax-free a week, plus a car & free parking - a nice little earner!

      is way off the mark and does not happen except through fraud only

    2. ESA Support Group x 2 = 224.00
      Carer's Allowance = 50 - 60.00
      Mobility Componant = 50 - 60.00
      Over 300.00 pounds per week - tax free!
      Exchange MC for car - plus free parking!
      As I said: a nice little earner!

  9. Also, too many people have Blue Badges. These are supposed to be for people who have severe mobility problems. Just check out the majority who park in disabled bays - they walk normally - fakers!

  10. Good afternoon,

    I am Laura Folgado and I am doing a feature article about people who are in trouble because of the cuts of the government. I would be grateful if you can put me in contact to anyone who has a story to tell. This is my email: lfolgadoconde@gmail.com

    Thank you for your attention