Further benefit cuts will “evoke fear in disabled people”
Monday 08 October 2012
Following the chancellor’s announcement of £10 billion in welfare cuts, the Hardest Hit campaign calls for the government to rule out targeting disabled people
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has today (Monday 8 October) announced plans for more cuts to the welfare budget.
Speaking at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham, George Osborne said, “the economy is healing”, but it is “taking longer than we hoped, because the damage was greater than we feared”. He explained that a further £16 billion of savings must be found by 2015/16 to meet his target of balancing the budget within five years.
This will include a £10 billion cut to the welfare budget by 2016-17, on top of the £18 billion announced in 2010. The move comes after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told the Liberal Democrat party conference that he wouldn’t support such a cut.
It is not yet clear where the cuts will be made and what specific impact this will have on disabled people. However, the chancellor suggested limiting housing benefit for under-25s, possible curbs on child tax credits, and allowing benefit increases to be lower than the rate of inflation.
More details may emerge on 5 December, when the chancellor updates parliament on the public finances and further cuts the government will make. It is likely that a welfare reform bill will be announced in the Queen’s speech in April, which would then make the legal changes needed to cut benefits or change people’s entitlements. These changes would come in during 2015/16, the year of the next general election.
The Hardest Hit campaign group, of which Mencap is a member, is concerned. The coalition’s co-chair, Steve Winyard, says: “The confirmation today of a further £10 billion of cuts to the welfare budget will evoke fear in disabled people across the country, who continue to be the hardest hit by cuts. We have already seen £9 billion removed from disability benefits and services in this parliament. Disabled people are now at tipping point.
“Only two weeks ago the Deputy Prime Minister said talk of a further £10 billion welfare cuts was ‘wild’ and that the Lib Dems wouldn't allow the deficit to be cut on the backs of the poorest. The government has crucial choices to make over the next twelve months, and we are calling for assurances that they will get it right and rule out targeting disabled people with further cuts.”