What price independent lives?, launched on the United Nations Day of Disabled People in 2013, highlights the combined effect of a range of benefit cuts on disabled people’s incomes and the particular threat this poses to independent living.
Through analysis of Habinteg’s data and stories provided by tenants this report demonstrates how disabled people are being hit hardest by the cumulative impact of the government’s welfare reform policies. It shows a complex new postcode lottery emerging as local authorities take different approaches to implementing the new rules and highlights how disabled people in general needs housing have so far fared worst in the implementation of bedroom tax.
This snapshot of information, taken just six months after the bedroom tax was introduced, sets a sobering context for further benefit cuts that disabled people are likely to face as Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payments are rolled out.
You can find a summary of the main findings here in our news item from Tuesday 3rd December 2013.
Key findings include:
- Two-thirds of our tenants affected by the bedroom tax are disabled people and of these, after six months of the new rules being in place, only a third had been exempted from paying by local authorities.
- 56% of our 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).
- The localised criteria for bedroom tax exemption has created a new postcode lottery for disabled people with an inconsistent and unpredictable approach which varies between local authorities. Such variation reinforces the barriers disabled people face if they want to move, whether for job opportunities or other reasons, and deepens inequality between disabled and non-disabled people.
- Most tenants adversely affected by the bedroom tax are preparing to “stay and pay” in order to keep their existing property. The chronic shortage of wheelchair standard and accessible properties makes moving to downsize simply not an option.
- Where local authorities do not agree exempt status, Habinteg is supporting tenants to apply for financial support under the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) schemes. However, where information is available, it suggests that many disabled people are being refused DHP support. Three out of four case studies in the report have been refused DHPs. Some tenants have been given this support by their local authority while others in similar circumstances have been refused. This inconsistency makes it difficult for housing providers to manage their response and support tenants.