Today the Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond announced the Budget, offering £2bn towards social care over the next three years, but offered no mention of reversing damaging cuts to disability benefits. Mencap responds below.
Dan Scorer, Head of Policy at learning disability charity Mencap, said:
The government’s long overdue recognition of the crisis in social care is welcome. The additional funding announced today will offer some stability as the government moves to consult on future funding options later this year. However, £4.6bn has been taken out of social care funding in the last six years, with people facing cuts to support and services. Future funding arrangements must be sustainable and sufficient to meet projected needs of disabled people in years to come.
The Chancellor has failed to take this final chance to halt a deeply damaging cut to Employment and Support Allowance due to come in from April, stripping disabled people assessed as unable to work of £30 per week. This will only push disabled people further away from work by creating hardship and insecurity, damaging the government’s stated aim of halving the disability employment gap.
Lorainne Bellamy, Mencap spokesperson who has a learning disability, said:
I have a learning disability and have been living on my own now for seven years. My supporter helps me with letters about my tax credits which are really difficult to understand. She helps me read and understand my telephone bills, my gas bills, my insurance and my statements from the bank. She has helped me set up direct debits so I can pay my bills and not get into debt. I used to not get any support at home, I struggled a lot, but this help has made a real difference.
I know how important the support I have had has been in allowing me to be independent. I am worried that there are people worse off than me who don’t get any support at all and worry about what happens to them. The government need to make sure people with a learning disability and their families get the right support.
Michelle Ornstein is 22 and has a learning disability, she currently receives ESA. She said:
If the cuts go ahead, I’m worried about what will happen. I have anxiety and the money I receive helps me to be able to get out of the house and do things. If I don’t have that money anymore, I’m worried that I won’t be able to go out.
It’s already hard enough for people with disabilities to find work and if they have less money, it will make it even harder to look for a job or go to interviews. People with disabilities are already fighting so hard in their communities to find work and the Government should be helping them instead of taking money away.
For further information, please contact the Mencap press office on 020 7696 5414 or firstname.lastname@example.org or for out of hours 07770 656 659.
There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.
For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email email@example.com
What is a learning disability?
A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life.
People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.
Learning disability is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’.