Spending review: Disabled people dread impact of cuts

From the BBC Website


Marcus Bradford, 43, left paralysed on his right side by a stroke, says his social life outside his care home will all but end.

Paul Corbett, 56, who is waiting for heart surgery, fears he could lose his home.

Anne Novis, 54, in constant pain from a spinal injury, worries she could lose some of the funding for the carers who wash and dress her.

They are among hundreds of thousands of long-term sick and disabled people likely to feel the effects of Wednesday’s spending review, announced as the government tries to tackle the national deficit.

Benefit reductions, cuts to local authority budgets and continuing reforms of the old incapacity benefits system have left many facing uncertainty.

‘Sometimes suicidal’

Marcus relies on £49.50 a week – the “mobility component” of the Disability Living Allowance – to travel beyond the vicinity of his Essex care home.

But from October 2012, this will be axed for all care home residents.

He says without it, he will have just £18 a week left over from the benefits that pay for the home, and that barely covers his toiletries and clothing.

He says he won’t be able to afford to visit his ailing 75-year-old mother 30 miles away, or to travel eight miles into nearby Clacton-on-Sea.

Some days, he already feels deeply depressed – “sometimes suicidal” – about his condition.

“We won’t be able to do anything, we’re going to be resigned to staying in the care home, 365 days a year,” he says.

The government says care homes should provide for such visits, and that people in residential care will get the financial help they need.

The spending review also included changes to the Employment and Support Allowance, brought in by Labour to replace incapacity benefit, for people too ill or disabled to work.

A new qualifying test has been introduced. Unless claimants are severely disabled or terminally ill, they are expected to try, with support, to develop their capacity for “work-related activity” and start to look for jobs.

But on Wednesday it was announced that, from April 2012, these claimants will be given a year to find work – after which only the poorest will continue to receive ESA…………

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