- Thousands of disabled people will be hit simultaneously by up to six different welfare cuts

 - Disabled people will lose £28.3bn of support by 2018

 - Up to 3.7 million disabled people affected in total

 - Demos calls on the Government to publish the cumulative impact of multiple cuts to benefits

 - Scope asks where disabled people fit in to Chancellor’s ‘aspiration nation’?


Hundreds of thousands of disabled people will be hit simultaneously by up to six different welfare cuts, according to new research published today by Demos.

The shock figures, the result of analysis commissioned by disability charity Scope, reveal for the first time the cumulative impact of the Government’s welfare reform plans with an astonishing £28.3bn being taken out of disabled people’s pockets by 2018.

Up to 3.7million disabled people will be affected.

The study shows how cuts to a host of benefits including Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), housing benefit and the ‘bedroom tax’ are hitting the same group of disabled people over and over again.

For example, 26,600 people will have a triple whammy of losing their ESA (through changes that time limit it), DLA (through PIP reform), and having their ESA uprating capped at 1% (before they lose it).

This loss is worth £17,000 to £23,000 over the five years depending on when they lose their DLA: either at the beginning or end of the transition to PIP.

At the same time an estimated 12,500 people who are in receipt of DLA, ESA (WRAG) and living in social housing will be hit by five cuts, losing £11,517 each, or £481m as a group. At the extreme, an estimated 3,000 people will be hit by six different cuts, each losing £23,000 as a household (or £4,600-a-year).

The losses come against a backdrop of flat-lining incomes and spiralling costs of living for disabled people, for whom daily life already costs more. At the same time it’s becoming harder for disabled people to be part of the community.

Councils – facing average budget cuts of more than 28% – have been forced to ration social care support leaving as many as 40% of disabled people without help to get up, get washed, get dressed and go out.

Scope and Demos argue that the Government has repeatedly failed to look at the bigger picture of what it’s like to be disabled in 2013, and how combinations of cuts impact on disabled people.


Claudia Wood, lead researcher on the project and Deputy Director of the think tank Demos, said:

“We at Demos have been investigating the impact of the cuts on disabled people since the 2010 spending review. The cuts and changes to benefits have kept coming since then, with the introduction of the overall benefits cap, the 1% cap on uprating and the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ being the latest example.

“Our research reveals that disabled people are bearing the brunt of the austerity measures, losing an estimated £28.3bn by 2017/18. While striking, these calculations will invariably be an underestimate of the true impact of the cuts – as we opted for the most conservative estimates on the more unknown elements of reform.

“What’s shocking is that the Government doesn’t assess the likely combined impact of these changes – only the impact of each change individually. However, many disabled families are being affected by combinations of four, five and even six changes, so we’re asking the Government to change tack, and start to publish cumulative impact assessments.”


Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of disability charity Scope said:

 “At the moment there’s no place for disabled people in the Chancellor’s aspiration nation. In 2013 disabled people are already struggling to pay the bills. Living costs are spiralling. Income is flat-lining. We know many are getting in debt, just to pay for essentials.

“What’s the Government’s response?  The same group of disabled people face not just one or two cuts to their support, but in some cases three, four, five or even six cuts. It paints a frightening picture of the financial struggles affecting disabled people in 2013. On top of this the Government is suggesting capping the welfare bill in the June spending review – having already slashed billions.

 “At the same time, disabled people who want to live independently, are seeing the support they need to get up, get dressed and get out squeezed due to chronic under-funding of social care.

“There is an opportunity coming up in the spending review and draft care and support bill for the Government to show that it is committed to supporting disabled people by addressing the £1.2 billion funding black hole in social care for disabled people.

“We have to start looking the bigger picture. It’s more than cuts to both social care and welfare. This is about the kind of country we want to live in. In 2013, at the very least disabled people should be able to pay the bills and live independently.”


Breakdown of figures

Researchers at Demos analysed a total of 13 changes to benefits that the Government has introduced and are due to come into effect as of 1 April 2013. Figures were then calculated totalling the numbers of disabled people affected by each individual change and the total financial loss incurred up to the financial year 2017/2018 – the year government has suggested a further round of cuts will be necessary.

Benefit change

Number of disabled people affected

Total Financial Loss up to 2018

Incapacity benefit


£5,6 billion

1% cap on benefit rises

3.7 million

£9 billion

Time limitation of WRAG (employment and support allowance)


£4,4 billion

Bedroom tax


£1,1 billion

Freezing child benefit

1 million

£1,7 billion

Overall benefit Cap


£2 billion

Introduction of Personal Independent Payment


£2,62 billion

Universal Credit


£2,2 billion

Abolition of Independent living Fund


£1,2 billion

Change to Local Housing Allowance


£2,43 billion**

Uprating and cuts to Tax Credits


£370 million

Localisation and 10% cut for Council Tax Benefit

1.38 million

£594.8 million

1% cap on various benefits and tax credits


£457 million**


Total number of disabled people affected = 3.7million

Total loss of income for disabled people  = £28.3 billion


Further analysis looked at the most common combinations of support disabled people rely on and revealed in some cases a “quintuple whammy” with thousands of people affected by five different cuts to support.

For example, an estimated 12,500 people who are in receipt of DLA, ESA (WRAG) and living in social housing will be hit by five cuts, losing £11,517 each, or £481m as a group. At the extreme, an estimated 3,000 people will be hit by six different cuts, each losing £23,000 as a household.

More details on this are available at http://www.demos.co.uk/blog/destinationunknownapril2013.


Case studies and spokespeople available

Demos: Ralph Scott, ralph.scott@demos.co.uk, 020 7367 6338, 07933 770 498

Scope: Amisha Koria, Amisha.koria@scope.org.uk, 0207 619 7200, 07843 467 948

Notes to editors

The complete analysis, released by Demos on Tuesday 26 March 2013, can be accessed here.

This analysis is part of the Disability in Austerity tracking study, a long-term project at Demos supported by Scope. More details on the project can be found here.

The analysis drew upon 13 separate Government Impact Assessments (primarily from DWP but also DLCG); the DWP’s Tabulation Tables for caseload data on all benefits issued by DWP; and the OBR’s projected inflation rates to assess the impact of uprating; in addition to other sources.