Wait a minute... This sounds eerily familiar.
Let's see. Blog post: 06 December 2012: "The Autumn Statement and Disability Benefits"
You might quite understandably be mistaken in thinking that disabled people came out quite safe and sound from this year's autumn statement. After all our chancellor announced that although restrictions were going to have to be made to most welfare benefits, disabled people and carers would be supported and disability/carer benefits would not be affected.
Yep. Osborne has done it again. And judging by the press, everyone has fallen for it.
You see, disabled people are NOT exempt from the benefit freeze any more than they were from the 1% cap. ESA, the benefit paid to those fairly found too sick and disabled to work after a gruelling series of tests, is to be included.
People in the WRAG (Work Related Activity Group) will have their benefit frozen entirely. Remember that these are sick and disabled people who have been found to be currently unfit for work. This is clearly problematic in itself as they can be seriously ill and/or permanently disabled, as is explained in this blog post from Ekklesia: "Chancellor's hidden blow to disabled people".
But the Support Group will also be affected to a lesser degree, as the policy will work in exactly the same way as for the 1% uprating cap. I will leave out the full explanation here as it is explained in detail in my previous blog from December 2012.
Put simply, only the "Support Group component" part of the benefit will be exempt, rather than the entire ESA benefit. The "main element", which forms the bulk of the payment (roughly 2/3 of it) will be hit and frozen.
This means that sick and disabled people in the Support Group will see their ESA limited to a tiny growth: one third of inflation.
Overall, roughly 2.5 million sick and disabled people will be directly hit by this policy.
It is bad enough that disabled people continue to be targeted for cuts. What is worse is that this fact is actively and deceptively hidden from MPs, voters and the general public.
It was disgraceful that our chancellor was allowed to get away with telling the House of Commons that "Disability Benefits" would be exempt from the 1% uprating cap when it was clearly not the case.
It is doubly disgraceful that he is now repeating exactly the same lie to voters about the benefit freeze.
The government and the Conservative Party should come clean and admit to both MPs and the public that disabled people ARE affected by these policies.
ADDENDUM: Facts and Figures, How the Freeze would affect disabled people this year.
For a single disabled person over the age of 25:
Both WRAG and Support Group have a main element of £72.40 (for single over 25). This will be affected by the benefit freeze.
The WRAG component (affected by freeze) is £28.75. (Total: £101.15)
The Support component (not affected by freeze) is £35.75.
So for the WRAG, £101.15 is frozen.
And for the Support group, £72.40 would be frozen and £35.75 would not, (ie roughly 2/3 of the total benefit of £108.15 is frozen).