A new report has found that disabled people are being hit the hardest by the governments welfare reforms.
Habinteg, a housing association, has produced a study called ‘What price independent lives?’ and has found that two thirds of its tenants affected by the bedroom tax are disabled. Habinteg analysed six months of its tenancy data since the introduction of benefit cuts and found that:
• Only a third of its disabled tenants affected by the bedroom tax had been exempted from paying by local authorities.
• 56% of its tenants living in wheelchair standard properties have not yet been given exempt status from the bedroom tax.
• Only 15% of tenants who receive disability living allowance (DLA) but live in general needs properties have been given bedroom tax exempt status by their local authority, raising concerns that disabled people in this group may be faced with additionally reduced income when tested for eligibility for personal independence payment (PIP).
24dash reports that Habinteg also found that a localised criteria for bedroom tax exemption has created what they call a new postcode lottery for disabled people.
The report also found that many of Habinteg’s bedroom tax victims were prepared to “stay and pay” in order to keep their property. They also stated that the “chronic shortage” of wheelchair standard and accessible properties meant that for many, downsizing was not an option.
Habinteg’s chief executive, Paul Gamble, said: “Our report shows clearly the disproportionate impact from combined welfare reform policies on disabled people and highlights the very serious risk that the basic right to an independent life is threatened by the increased financial burden.
“We want the government to acknowledge, understand and act on the cumulative impact of its welfare cuts agenda on disabled people. We are calling for the repeal of the bedroom tax, especially in respect of disabled people along with other steps to ensure their on-going right to independence and inclusion in their homes and communities.”
Baroness Rosalie Wilkins, vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Disability Group, said: “Habinteg’s new research provides a rallying cry for choice, independence and equality. Independent living is a right not a privilege. The way in which the bedroom tax cuts the incomes of disabled people at a stroke and impinges on their ability to live independently is something that must be challenged. I fully endorse Habinteg in their efforts to persuade the government to listen to the evidence, call a halt to the bedroom tax and rethink a welfare benefits programme that is unfairly impacting on disabled people.”
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