Socialist Worker

Housing benefit cuts will make disabled people more vulnerable

by Linda Burnip
Issue No. 2213

The Tories’ planned changes to housing benefit could drive thousands of disabled people from their homes.

The cuts will force them to move into cheaper areas, be pushed into extreme poverty, or at worst end up imprisoned in residential care.

Disabled people often need extra space for things like a wheelchair, dialysis machines or other equipment.

They may need ground-floor accommodation and accessible homes. But the cheapest accommodation isn’t normally accessible.

People with learning disabilities need to stay in an area that they know and feel safe in.

It can take several years for someone with a learning disability to learn how to find their way around, which buses to get and so on.

It is also important for disabled people to continue to see doctors, district nurses and other professionals who they know and trust, and who understand their impairments and needs.

Organising

Being forced to move threatens all of that. Moving could also mean that people lose a crucial service because some councils provide things that others don’t.

That is why disabled people are organising.

My group is planning to come to the Right to Work protest outside the Tory Party conference in Birmingham on 3 October.

It’s important to make sure that disabled people are there and that their disability isn’t a barrier to participation.

The government says that disabled people should be able to live independently, but its policies make that much harder, if not impossible.

Life is already hard for disabled people. There is no provision at the moment for people needing live-in care, for example.

We still have situations where disabled children are unnecessarily being taken into care, or where disabled pensioners are choosing between paying for housing costs or essential care and support.

Already the poorest and most severely disabled pay over £80 a week from their Disability Living Allowance and Income Support to fund their care from the Independent Living Fund.

Private

The need for social housing is huge. Yet many councils have told people on their waiting lists to rent in the private sector as there is no social housing available.

Parts of London have a ten-year waiting list.

A parliamentary debate showed that nationally 48 percent of tenants top up their rent by an average of £23 per week.

New cuts mean that they will be expected to find even more.

When the government says it has no money, I think about how much they’ve spent on

Afghanistan and Iraq, and how much they’re planning to spend on Trident.

It’s not inevitable that we have to have cuts—it’s a choice.

Linda Burnip is the campaign co-ordinator for the Local Housing Allowance Reform Group.

You can sign a petition against damaging changes to housing benefit for disabled people at

www.gopetition.co.uk/petition/37629.html


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