New research for the mayor of London has shown how 10 years of government welfare cuts and reforms have “discriminated” against disabled Londoners.
The mayor of London has written to work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd to ask her to reverse a series of government social security cuts, after his report showed the dramatic impact on disabled Londoners of 10 years of welfare reform.
Labour’s Sadiq Khan (pictured) told Amber Rudd in his letter that the assessment of the combined impact of the government’s tax and social security reforms showed disabled households in London had been “hardest hit” by the cuts.
He said in comments released alongside the report that the government’s “regressive” policies had discriminated against disabled Londoners, although he did not accuse the government of discrimination in his letter to Rudd.
Researchers, commissioned by the mayor, carried out a cumulative impact assessment (CIA) of years of tax and benefit changes on adults in London.
Ministers have repeatedly refused to carry out their own CIA, even though the Equality and Human Rights Commission published such research itself last year.
The mayor’s research found that, by 2021-22, households in London that include a disabled person will have lost an average of £1,910 a year, compared to households with no disabled adults, who are expected to gain an average of £300 a year.
Households with both children and a disabled person will receive an average of £3,760 a year less than they would otherwise have received if the government’s reforms had not been introduced.
The report found that poorer Londoners will experience a drop in their incomes, while richer Londoners will see their incomes increase as a result of the government’s policies.
The analysis includes changes brought in through the coalition’s Welfare Reform Act 2012, and the Conservative government’s Welfare Reform and Work Act four years later, as well as a series of finance bills.
These changes include the introduction of universal credit and personal independence payment (PIP), the benefit cap, the bedroom tax, cuts to housing benefit, the benefits freeze, and the cut of nearly £30 a week for those in the work-related activity group (WRAG) of employment and support allowance, as well as increases in the minimum wage and the personal tax allowance.
Results from The Survey of Londoners, another piece of research commissioned by the mayor, published last month, showed disabled Londoners struggling with food insecurity, fuel poverty and overall levels of satisfaction with their lives.
The survey showed a third of disabled Londoners (34 per cent) experiencing low levels of food security, with one in four not able to keep their homes warm in the winter, and only just over a third (38 per cent) reporting high levels of wellbeing.
In his letter, the mayor told Rudd: “In this letter I particularly want to flag the extent to which disabled households in London have been hardest hit by cuts to the welfare benefits system.”
He asked Rudd to reverse a series of government cuts and reforms because of their impact on disabled Londoners, including the WRAG cut, the benefits freeze, and the bedroom tax, and to order a “complete redesign” of the PIP assessment process and the work capability assessment.
And he said he was “extremely concerned” about the impact on Londoners of the rollout of universal credit. He added: “I do not want to be in a society where the most disadvantaged are put at risk of poverty or destitution. “With disabled Londoners more likely to be struggling with food security and fuel poverty, you need to act now to stop putting disabled Londoners at even greater risk.”
But despite his letter, and a new pilot project to support low income families, the mayor released no details of any new plans to address his concerns about the impact of the government cuts on disabled Londoners.
Ellen Clifford, a disabled member of the mayor’s equality, diversity and inclusion advisory group, said: “I am very pleased that this report has now come out because it provides an evidence base for what we know from lived experience is happening, namely the disproportionate impacts of welfare reform and tax changes on the poorest in London.
“It supports the picture presented by data from the recently published Londoners Survey which shows disabled people and children in households with disabled adults experiencing significant economic and social inequality.
“Only 18 per cent of respondents who are disabled and long term out of work report high or very high satisfaction with their lives, with nearly half (46 per cent) scoring themselves in the lowest life satisfaction category. “That is immensely sad and the result of nearly 10 years of policies that have punished disabled people in receipt of social security.
“I welcome the response by London’s mayor in writing to Amber Rudd calling for policy changes that will exempt disabled claimants from measures that are contributing to loss of income and impoverishment.”
A spokesperson for the mayor said he was “extremely concerned about the impact the government’s welfare reforms have had on disabled Londoners, as shown by the Survey of Londoners and City Hall research”.
And he said the mayor would “continue to push the government to reverse the effects of its policies and ensure disabled Londoners are given support”, for example through his new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, and setting up the equality, diversity and inclusion advisory group.
He said the mayor was also “working closely” with Transport for London on “continual access improvements to London’s transport network”; investing £75 million in specialist, supported housing for disabled Londoners; and working to boost the incomes of those in fuel poverty through the Energy for Londoners programmes, with priority groups including disabled people.
And he said he was promoting a better understanding by employers of disabled people’s experiences of application, assessment, selection, employment and progression in work through the Good Work Standard.
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