Having already committed to £12 billion of additional welfare cuts, the UK Government’s emergency budget still provided devastating news for many people in Scotland with a learning disability.
Cuts in the level of support provided by the welfare state have been a feature of budgets for some time and it is worth remembering that the changes announced yesterday are in addition to cuts already in place.
Although a small number of people will benefit from the increases in the national minimum wage and personal tax allowances, the accompanying cuts to Employment and Support Allowance, Tax Credits and the freezing of yearly benefit increases will devastate the incomes of many people who have a learning disability.
Changes to Employment and Support Allowance payments could see some people who have a learning disability lose more than a quarter of their weekly income (there will be protection for current claimants) and changes to Tax Credits will see disabled workers and parents of a child who has learning disabilities entitlements significantly reduced or stopped completely.
Because Tax Credits are based on the total taxable income of a household any increase in income from the increased national minimum wage or income tax thresholds will do little to off-set these cuts.
Another significant real terms cut for the people we support will be the freezing of the yearly up-rating of benefit rates. Although some disability benefits and disability elements will be protected from this freeze there will still be substantial losses for disabled people and their carers as some benefits they receive will either not be protected at all or only certain parts will be.
ENABLE Scotland is also deeply concerned that many families will not receive the full financial support for children born after 6th of April 2017 and feel that risks a surge in the level of child poverty in Scotland for families both with and without disabled children.
What should I do if I am worried about the impact of these changes on me or my family?
The changes announced yesterday are devastating for people who have a learning disability. There is no getting away from this.
Advice to our members though remains the same as it has always.
Make sure that you have your benefits checked regularly by an advice agency to ensure that you and your family are in receipt of everything you should be.
You can access advice by calling ENABLE Direct on 0300 0200 101 or by speaking to a Citizens Advice Bureau, local authority welfare rights team or a local law centre.