The British government was embarking on a wholesale reform of the welfare benefit system when the economic crisis struck. Unfortunately since then, the economy has gone in to crisis and the government has simultaneously embarked on a massive programme of cuts.
Illness or disability could affect any one of us at any time, while many more of us are potential carers. Welfare benefits are a lifeline to many disabled people and carers in the United Kingdom. If you are a disabled person in the UK, it is possible that you may be entitled to (and/or currently receive) a number of benefits. It is these benefits that the government is targeting. I think most people are aware that Incapacity Benefit (IB) is currently undergoing a huge change. 90% of claimants are being called in for a medical examination and reassessment. The next target is Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Severe Disability Allowance (SDA). Of course, we also must not forget the changes to Housing Benefit (HB) which could also drastically affect those people who are disabled.
Now I’m not in the habit of scaremongering but I do think that we should be concerned. I am already aware of some disabled people who have been stripped of their benefits. This has caused them and their family’s severe hardship and worry. I can only really talk about how these cuts might affect people who are suffering with MS. I suppose what worries me more than anything is that some MS sufferers fall into the group “just because I don’t look ill – doesn’t mean I’m not”. Does this mean that on the day of the health assessment, if a claimant with MS is able to walk, talk and function sufficiently their benefits will stop and they will be told to get a job? (I could ramble on here that unemployment is growing and jobs are scarce but I’ll spare you those details!) Obviously, there are many other people who are seriously ill but look relatively healthy. Never has the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” been more applicable. The UK has a shortage of social housing. We’ve known this for thirty years. If you live in rented accommodation and have a spare bedroom, you will now have to pay for it or move to a smaller property. I have a spare bedroom. It is actually full of my disability equipment. The government do not care. They have backed down and said that disabled people who need their spare bedroom for an overnight carer will not have to pay for it. I’m assuming the rest of us should be grateful.
I am not saying that the government are wrong by reforming the welfare system but I do think that they must be cautious about stripping people of the state funded aid that is much needed for the majority of claimants.
If you live in the UK and would like to support the campaign to stop these benefit cuts please go here:
For a lot more specific information on all the benefit cuts please go here: