House of Commons Library

Welfare reform and disabled people

Published Monday, April 25, 2016

The Library briefing provides an overview of the benefits changes introduced since 2010 affecting disabled people and their families, looks at the impact of the changes, and summarises responses from disability organisations and others.

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The 2010 Government embarked on a major programme of welfare reforms, some of which will not be implemented fully for a number of years. Major elements include the introduction of Universal Credit, which is replacing means-tested benefits and tax credits for working age families, and Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which is replacing Disability Living Allowance for people of working age.

There have also been significant changes to incapacity benefits, including the continued rollout of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), and changes to the structure of ESA and “conditionality” for ESA claimants. Other measures not exclusively affecting people with disabilities but which may impact on families with disabled people, include changes to benefits uprating policy and capping of the total amount of benefits the household can receive.

The current Government announced further welfare measures which will affect disabled people including a four year freeze for most working-age benefits, reductions in the Benefit Cap, changes to tax credits and to Universal Credit, and abolishing the “Work-Related Activity Component” for new ESA claims from 2017.

Following the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on 18 March, and the appointment of Stephen Crabb as his successor, the Government announced that it would not be proceeding with controversial further changes to PIP, would not be seeking alternative offsetting savings, and had no further plans to make welfare savings beyond the savings already legislated for by Parliament.

Mr Crabb also said that he wanted to ‘start a new conversation with disabled people, their representatives, healthcare professionals and employers’ to shape future policy and to ‘take time to reflect on how best we support and help transform people’s lives.’

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7571

Authors: Steven Kennedy; Chris Murphy; Wendy Wilson

Topics: Benefits administration, Benefits policy, Housing benefits, Sickness, disability and carers' benefits, Working age benefits

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