The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), of which Parkinson's UK is a member, launched the report Has welfare become unfair? The impact of welfare changes on disabled people at a recent parliamentary event.
A grant from the Three Guineas Trust made this vital research possible.
DISABLED PEOPLE LOSE OUT
The welfare system is intended to provide a financial safety net for some of the most vulnerable people in society. Yet the report found changes to the benefits system have had a devastating impact on disabled people.
Disabled people have lost on average £1,200 each year because of changes to benefits. But this average hides some even more shocking figures.
The research shows that the more disabilities a person has, the more they lose out as a result of the changes.
Even worse, households with at least 1 disabled adult and 1 disabled child lose on average over £4,300 each year.
Benefit cuts are leading to a crisis for disabled people.
That's why we're calling on the government to make a number of essential improvements, including introducing a disability element to Universal Credit, to replace the disability premiums being cut from the old system.
ASSESSMENTS MUST IMPROVE
But it's not just about money. The vast majority of those who took part in the report research had a terrible experience when being assessed for benefits.
The picture that emerged from the research was that of a 'survival of the fittest' welfare system.
Participants told us about experiences involving assessors who lacked both empathy and an adequate understanding of their condition.
Any system where 74% of decisions are being overturned at tribunal is clearly not working. That's why we're also calling on the government to carry out an independent review of the application processes and criteria.
We want to find out why things are going so wrong in so many cases. And, more importantly, we want to put it right.
LONG TRIBUNAL WAITING TIMES
Parkinson's UK Senior Policy and Campaigns Adviser Michael Griffin commented:
"It is ludicrous that we have a system that penalises some of the most vulnerable people in our society, where the more support a person needs, the more the system takes away. We need to make welfare work for disabled people.
"As well as backing the 22 recommendations in the DBC report, the issue we are really concerned about is tribunal waiting times, which are getting longer every month. Some people are left waiting for more than a year to go to tribunal, and in that time, are left without support.
"Parkinson's UK is committed to bringing down these waiting times for tribunal hearings and campaigning to reverse the cuts to disability benefits that have made the lives of people with Parkinson's miserable."