Queen’s speech ‘suggests the worst is yet to come'
Summary: Disabled people should prepare themselves for more cuts and further attacks on their rights over the next five years, disabled campaigners have warned in the wake of this week’s Queen’s speech.
The speech, which laid out plans for what the prime minister called a “one nation government”, confirmed his party’s pledge to introduce further sweeping cuts to benefits spending.
It also suggested that plans to scrap the Human Rights Act (HRA) would be postponed, but not abandoned.
Among the bills referred to by the Queen, who delivers the speech every year on behalf of the prime minister at the state opening of parliament, was a full employment and welfare benefits bill.
This will freeze most working-age benefits in 2016-17 and 2017-18 across England, Scotland and Wales (including all but the support group top-up element of employment and support allowance (ESA)), although claimants of personal independence payment (PIP) and disability living allowance (DLA) will be exempted.
The bill will also lower the cap on total benefits for non-working families to £23,000 a year, although households which include someone claiming PIP or DLA will be protected.
David Cameron, the prime minister, said the social security reforms would “incentivise work”, so that people were “always better off after a day at the office or factory than they would have been sitting at home”.
He said the cuts were “true social justice”, turning “the welfare system into a lifeline, not a way of life”, and “not handing people benefit cheque after benefit cheque with no end in sight”.
But Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) said there was “nothing in the Queen’s speech for disabled people”.
Anita Bellows, a DPAC spokeswoman, said: “Although the government has tried for the past five years to increase the number of disabled people into work, through various schemes or punitive cuts, caps and sanctions, the reality is the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people has not narrowed.
“The government is now using a freeze to cut further benefits which support disabled people who cannot work, like ESA, and a benefit cap which is likely to push into crisis households who are now just managing to make ends meet.”
She added: “A government which financially punishes the poorest is not a ‘one nation government’.”
Bill Scott, director of policy for Inclusion Scotland, said: “Even though most of the cuts are not to ‘disability’ benefits, the cuts to child benefit, jobseeker’s allowance, tax credits, etc, will impact disproportionately on disabled people because they are more reliant on benefits for some or all of their income and of course twice as many disabled people claim ESA as claim DLA – and ESA is not being protected from the cuts.”
Scott pointed out that the cuts announced through the Queen’s speech would only “save” about £1 billion a year, while the Conservatives pledged in their general election manifesto to cut £12 billion from the social security bill.
He said there was presumably another £11 billion in cuts still to be announced, probably in George Osborne’s budget on 8 July.
Scott said: “I fear that for disabled people the worst is yet to come.”
Disability Rights UK said that the government’s promise of two million new jobs was “a bold promise”, while the Conservative election manifesto aim to halve the disability employment gap – and therefore create one million more jobs for disabled people – was “a worthy aspiration”.
But it said the government’s proposed measures “seem drawn from the view that people are on welfare because of the level of benefits, when it is more often the lack of adequate or effective employment support”, and appear to offer “a crock of gold but no rainbow to get them there”.
Disability Rights UK called on the government to introduce a national work experience programme for young disabled people, toughen legislation so people do not lose their jobs so easily “simply because they have acquired a disability”, improve the Access to Work scheme, and allow disabled jobseekers a personal budget so they can commission their own back-to-work support.
It added: “On benefits, the government still hasn’t explained where £12 billion of cuts will fall and so we await the budget for the necessary detail.
“In advance of that, we call on the government to recognise that disabled people will only be able to reach our full potential as equal citizens if our support needs are met and we can achieve independent living.”
Kaliya Franklin, co-development lead for People First England (PFE), said her organisation was “relieved” that the government had not yet suggested introducing means-testing or taxing DLA and PIP.
But she said: “However, we are concerned that the further freeze in working-age benefits will particularly impact those disabled people in poorly-paid, part-time work, and for many make the difference between just about surviving and no longer being able to afford the essentials of daily living.
“Should inflation rise as predicted over the next few years then this restriction will have a rapid and disproportionate effect on the poorest in society, many of whom are the ‘hard-working strivers’ so apparently beloved by politicians.”
John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said there was no mention in the Queen’s speech of where most of the planned £12 billion in cuts to social security spending would fall.
He said: “A lot of disabled people are going to be feeling very apprehensive about the future.”
He also said it was “disappointing” to see Labour’s interim leader, Harriet Harman, supporting reductions in the benefit cap, in her response to the Queen’s speech.
McArdle said: “The Child Poverty Action Group has said this will plunge more children into poverty. Many of them will be from disabled families.
“If we have any hope in Scotland, that is the hope that significant further welfare powers will be devolved.
“We look to the SNP contingent in parliament to fight against the cuts tooth-and-nail on a moral basis affecting everybody throughout the UK, as Labour seems to have abandoned any pretence of providing a proper opposition to welfare reform.”
There was significant media interest in the reference in the Queen’s speech to a new British bill of rights, particularly the failure to announce that a bill would be put forward this session.
The government said only that it would “bring forward proposals”, with reports suggesting that justice secretary Michael Gove would consult on those plans before publishing any new legislation.
When asked about the government’s proposals, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said only that ministers would be “discussing their plans on this and making announcements in due course”.
When asked whether this meant there would be a consultation on the government’s proposals, and no bill in the current session of parliament, he refused to comment further.
Elsewhere in the Queen’s speech, there were concerns about the possible impact of a new enterprise bill, which promises to extend the government’s “ambitious target for cutting red tape to cover the activities of more regulators”, and ensure that regulators “design and deliver services and policies to best suit the needs of business”.
Sir Bert Massie, the former chair of the Disability Rights Commission, warned that although deregulation can sound good it “can result in lower standards that exclude disabled people”, for example with standards for accessible homes.
There was some support for parts of a new policing and criminal justice bill, which will reform laws on detaining people under the Mental Health Act, banning the use of police cells as “places of safety” for those under 18, and reducing their use for adults.
Franklin welcomed the plan to ban the use of police cells for under-18s, but said PFE would like to see it extended to include adults with learning difficulties or autism.
She also stressed the importance of human rights legislation to disabled people.
She said PFE had lobbied the former attorney general Dominic Grieve on this issue at last year’s Conservative party conference.
She said: “As disabled people, we are particularly mindful that the HRA is a vital protection from abuse of state powers.
“There are still approximately 3,000 adults with learning disabilities and/or autism being held in the care of the state at huge expense to the taxpayer and frequently experiencing the kind of ‘treatment’ most lay people would describe as torture.”
Peter Beresford, co-chair of the national service-user network Shaping Our Lives and professor of social policy at Brunel University, said: “To make sense of the Queen’s speech for disabled people and other social care service-users, we have to keep this government’s concerns in the front of our mind.
“They are committed to regressive redistribution, and reduced public services, and financial and social support to citizens.
“There is an overall direction of travel here, whether we are talking about the loss of already inadequate social housing through ‘right to buy’ or the increased availability of free child care to all, including people on high incomes, for all the talk of targeting welfare.
“They are committed to a further term after this and want to redirect resources to those who will vote for them, thinking mistakenly mostly that it will serve their interests.
“Disabled people, mental health service-users, many older people and people with learning difficulties aren’t the constituency they need or care about. So things will get far worse in my view than many people even now expect.”
Source Disability News Service
Other recent news items:
- Doctors’ union finally agrees to spread the word
- Disability Politics UK: call to prioritise step free access
- Children with disabilities: targeted violence and hostility
- Dementia care: how social enterprises are developing products and services
- Adass spring seminar: four things you need to know
- The Disability Audit: the eight coalition policies that have hit disabled people
- DWP told to publish ESA deaths report, after two-year delay
- The struggle to find work when you have Down's syndrome
- PIP Delay Crisis Over, Claims DWP
- Meet Justin Tomlinson MP- New Minister For Disabled People
- A quick guide to new care minister Alistair Burt
- How to use your disability as a strength when applying for jobs
- Devastating impact of cuts on disabled people
- NHS ‘has wasted more than a year’ on latest bid to improve wheelchair services
- Five Thousand Disabled Adults Sexually Abused In Last 2 Years Says NSPCC
- ESA Claimant Takes On Maximus And Wins
- One in five benefit-related deaths involved sanctions, admits DWP
- Manchester United tell family with disabled son to watch Stockport instead
- Joint mental health commissioning strategy
- New parliament sees number of disabled MPs plunge
- Motability under spotlight over cuts to grants… despite £190 million reserves
- Disabled people ‘should come together in new national body’
- 'It's a great honour': Selby appoints UK's first mayor with learning disabilities
- Voluntary Community Social Enterprise Review website
- Cameron downgrades minister for disabled people
- Poor UK cancer survival rates linked to lack of GP direct access to scans
- Charity highlights role of siblings in supporting adults with a disability
- Queen’s Speech fails to mention social care funding
- Queen’s speech ‘suggests the worst is yet to come'
- TV industry must improve representation of disabled people
- The bionic suit helping wheelchair users get back on their feet
- New project to tackle mental health issues
- Equality watchdog contradicts football’s Premier League over access
- Schools 'must improve support for diabetic children'
- National Theatre plans shows on issue of disability
- Rise in mental health bed occupancy
- Watchdog writes to Man Utd after stewards confiscate walking aids from fans
- Government cuts ‘could see disabled people slide back to the bad old days’
- Disabled payment delay unlawful, judge rules
- The 'dragons' who want to help disabled people start their own business
- Boy, 12, wins £120,000 in damages after swine-flu jab left him 'severely disabled' by narcolepsy
- DWP ignores watchdog’s deadline over benefit-related deaths
- Man who cannot walk or talk called for jobcentre 'back to work' interview
- UK woman can ride bike for first time with 'world's most lifelike bionic hand'
- GPs to refer more patients with low-risk cancer symptoms under new NICE guidance
- Disability campaigners clash with police inside parliament over benefit cuts
- Indefinite Award DLA Transfer To PIP Will Start From July In Certain Postcodes
- Disabled children less happy with hospital care than peers
- ILF closure: Process has caused ‘fear, stress and anxiety’, say researchers
- Disability poverty rose sharply in fourth year of coalition
- UK services failing patients with dementia
- Shadow disability minister admits backing assisted suicide bill
- Disabled people's rights threatened by government cuts, campaigners warn
- BBC Three’s ‘Defying The Label’ Season
- From 'bloodied knees' to the House of Commons as a disabled MP
- Mental health patients sent hundreds of miles for beds as out of area placements rise 23 per cent
- Systematic over-medication blights learning disability care
- The Superhumans return to Channel 4
- Accessible Information Standard Approved
- Doctors demand return of lung cancer awareness campaign
- David O’Mar, 58, Found Fit For Work Two Weeks Before His Death
- World First Bionic Eye Gives Hope To Millions
- Seven-day NHS to include child mental health services, minister confirms
- Court hears appeal on ‘unfair’ PIP 20 metre rule consultation
- New report by Business Disability Forum cites lack of skills in line managers as major barrier to retention of disabled employees
- Tanni says 10,000 signatures could finally transform wheelchair services
- BBC3 presenter and journalist crowdfunding to transform the lives of people with disabilities in Ghana
- Disabled voters take pioneering legal action over election access
- Has disability sport lost its London 2012 Paralympics momentum?
- NHS Announce New Care Guidelines For Learning Disabilities
- Fresh evidence that ‘benefit scrounger rhetoric’ is causing hate crime
- Sanctioned Jobseekers With Mental Health Problems Are Not ‘Vulnerable’ Says DWP
- Clubs “Neglecting Responsibility” To Disabled Fans
- Latest Figures Show Massive Rise In ESA Sanctions
- ‘Bizarre’ figures raise fears over ministers’ plans for ESA
- School nurses ‘need better mental health training’
- Number of people developing dementia 'stabilising'
- Boy, nine, fitted with first prosthetic hand that can change grip with gestures
- Iain Duncan Smith criticises employers over disability employment gap
- Disability benefit sanctions soar by 30% in a year
- Thousands have died after being found fit for work, DWP figures show
- Goths at risk of depression or self-harming, research says
- Elderly 'ripped off' in mobility scooter market
- GPs are missing cancer in children - because they 'don't have enough training'
- IDS announces 'fitness for work' U-turn that was five years in the making
- People with autism and learning disabilities excel in creative thinking, study shows
- Starbucks apologises for telling woman she was not 'disabled enough' to use the toilet
- DLA Lifetime Award PIP Transition Started from 1 September in 29 New Areas
- Successful 'Fit for Work' Appeals at Highest Ever Level, Show DWP Stats
- Why is our justice system failing vulnerable people?
- UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms
- Coroners 'ground breaking' verdict: Suicide was 'triggered' by 'fit for work' test
- Schoolboy calls for more disabled characters in children's books
- The quadruple amputee who needs the correct prosthetic
- Welfare to work programme failing disabled and ill jobseekers, say charities
- Disabled fans 'delighted' as Premier League finally acts on access
- Two-thirds of adult social care requests rejected by local councils
- Independent Living Fund: Government silence 'suggests something to hide'
- UK employers report rise in mental health problems: CIPD study
- UN inquiry considers alleged UK disability rights violations
- Parliament's own disability group picks first non-disabled chair in nearly 50 years
- Dementia drug 'keeps patients out of nursing homes'
- Disability benefit cuts will actually make it harder for disabled people to find work,coalition of 60 charities warns
- Problems with the care and treatment provided by the NHS and/or difficulties in accessing health services?
- Consultation on the proposed new adult social care strategy
- The Leicestershire Advice Service for Social Care is here to guide you
- Minister: MPs must help 'open doors' for disabled jobseekers
- 'Homes not hospitals': learning disability care to move to community
- Equality Act 'simply isn't strong enough' for BSL-users, peers are told
- Disability Hate Crimes Rise 41% In A Year
- Companies fear employing people with learning disabilities, survey reveals
- DWP cuts specialist disability employment advisors in jobcentres by over 60 per cent
- Watchdog 'must do more to support disabled people to fight discrimination'
- ‘We must keep banging the drum,’ says bus campaigner after five-year fight for justice
- 2,000 disabled people wrongly declared ‘fit to work’ by DWP in just three months
- Local authorities 'spend close to nothing on mental health'
- Rock band with learning disabilities release first single
- NICE seeks to improve diagnosis and treatment of cerebral palsy
- Premier League clubs face legal threat unless disabled access is improved
- UK’s progress on disability rights ‘patchy and tortuous’, UN told
- Peer pressure sees minister finally announce date for taxi access laws
- Stop the NHS slashing vulnerable people’s care packages in and around Leicestershire
- Minister tells industries to increase representation of disabled people
- Disabled children in England 'finding it increasingly hard to access council care'
- Wheelchair Rugby Loses Funding Appeal
- Plans that could force people into institutions could be ‘front line’ of national problem
- Young people 'fear stigma' if they ask for mental-health help
- Disability benefits process is 'inherently flawed', MPs told
- Businesses woefully ill-equipped to deal with Britain's rapidly growing mental health crisis
- Cash boost for pupils with special needs and disability
- PIP investigation: ‘Horrific’ suicide question sparks fresh assessment inquiry calls
- Disability report: Being disabled in Britain
- Stop PIP reassessments for patients with progressive diseases, campaigners say
- Patients with learning disabilities missing out on health checks
- Thousands have disability vehicles taken away
- Aspire announces GLL and LCiL as first partners to lead InstructAbility
- Easy read guide to voting by post
- Online campaign ‘could enable disabled people to affect election outcome’
- Health Committee inquiry and report: Brexit and Health and Social Care – People and Process
- Women’s Resource Centre report: the Impact of Austerity Measures on Women’s Voluntary and Community Organisations
- Disabled people ‘forced into dangerous workfare that breaches health and safety laws’
- Mental Health Foundation report: Surviving or Thriving? The State of the UK’s Mental Health
- Stirling University to launch home dementia app
- General Election 2017: What are the parties promising disabled people?
- Anger, resignation… and optimism in wake of general election result
- New disabled MPs pledge to fight for rights in parliament
- Queen’s speech: May ‘abandons’ election pledge on access
- The waiting time for a vital disability benefit has risen hugely in 6 months
- Almost 6,000 mental health patients sent out of area for care last year
- Patients increasingly forced to crowdfund their own wheelchairs as NHS provision not enough, doctors warn
- Years of austerity have left personal assistance in ‘very fragile state’
- Over Half Of Foodbank Users Are Households With A Disabled Person
- Prince Harry launches brain injury card in Suffolk
- Iain Duncan Smith says work capability assessments don't work and are 'too harsh'
- PIP investigation: 200 cases of dishonesty… and still DWP, Atos and Capita refuse to act
- Global blindness set to 'triple by 2050'
- My disability abortion bill could halt Britain’s slide towards eugenics, says Tory peer
- Jobcentre Staff Have An Alarming Lack Of Confidence Dealing With Disabled Claimants
- BBC initiative for disabled actors is a ‘wake-up call’ for producers