Presenter: Veda, ANUK Disability Rights Adviser
The Welfare Reform Act 2012 laid down the foundations for the most extensive changes to the welfare system in over 60 years. This presentation addresses some of the most significant.
Since 2008, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) has been gradually replacing Incapacity Benefit for people who are unable to work because of an illness or disability but 2013 will see a radical overhaul of welfare benefits at a far greater pace and with potentially far reaching consequences.
The national schemes for Council Tax Benefit, discounts, reductions and exemptions that help people receiving benefits or on a low income to pay their Council Tax will be replaced by local schemes administered by Local Authorities. The budget for these schemes is 10% less than it was under the old system and many people may find that they do not get as much assistance.
The total amount of certain benefits that many claimants receive will be limited from 2013. The aim is to make it financially beneficial for someone to work instead of claiming benefits. However, many people may struggle to meet their most basic expenditure because of the combination of measures being introduced.
Of great concern for disabled people is the replacement of working-age Disability Living Allowance (DLA) by Personal Independence Payment (PIP). This change is intended to reduce the number of claimants and many people getting the lower rates of DLA could lose out. People claiming Carer’s Allowance could also suffer as a result as those they are caring for could find it difficult to pass the more stringent PIP tests. However, there are currently no plans to abolish DLA for children or Attendance Allowance.
Another significant change is the introduction of Universal Credit (UC). This benefit will eventually replace a number of means-tested benefits. UC laimants will receive one monthly payment instead of being able to rely on being paid on a more regular basis. Some carers may be better off under UC but many disabled people may not. In particular, although UC includes an amount for people who are unable to work in the same way that ESA does, it does not include the severe disability premium that many disabled people rely on.