The Social Market Foundation (SMF) report found that 42% of families who rely on disability allowance are simultaneously living in poverty
The report released today (24 February) is a stark call for disability allowance reform, with the author describing the current benefits system as “broken.”
Currently, 28% of disabled people say that their finances have worsened throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. People living with disabilities are also two and a half more times likely to be out of work, in comparison to those living without a disability. Food insecurity continues to be a problem across the UK.
Even when it comes to fighting for their legal rights, only 2% of courtrooms in the UK are accessible.
It seems that there are also a further 1.8 million more disabled people in poverty, than there were fifteen years ago. But the general number of people on disability allowance is roughly the same as it was 20 years ago.
The SMF report proposes two key solutions:
- The Government should use its highly-anticipated Green Paper and cross-departmental disability strategy to deliver a welfare system which “lifts disabled people out of poverty and delivers support in a dignified, fair and respectful manner.”
- Reforms could boost the UK output by £50 billion (GVA) a year and lead to Exchequer benefits of around £17 billion a year.
‘Reforms have wasted billions of pounds of taxpayer money’
Matthew Oakley, Senior Researcher at the Social Market Foundation and author of the report, said: “Successive governments have repeatedly failed disabled people, their families and communities for decades.
“Not only is failing policy damaging the lives of disabled people – it also means that the UK is missing out on everything that disabled people can bring to the economy and society. Reforms have wasted billions of pounds of taxpayer money and failure to support more disabled people to fulfil their working ambitions has deprived the economy of as much as £50 billion of output every year.”
‘A string of inflexible, bewildering and cruel rules’
James Taylor, Executive Director of Strategy, Impact and Social Change at disability equality charity Scope, commented: “The constant stress, uncertainty and distress it causes are symptoms of having to battle a system that should be there to support a decent standard of living, rather than one that penalises and treats disabled people unfairly.
“For a long time, too many disabled people have been trapped in poverty by a string of inflexible, bewildering and cruel rules and decisions that have focussed on trying to stop people claiming the very benefits that would help enable them to get out poverty in the first place.”