15th September 2016 John Pring http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/
“Very disturbing” new government figures show a steep fall in the proportion of disabled people being found eligible for out-of-work disability benefits.
Disabled campaigners fear the figures show the government is cutting spending on disability benefits “below the radar”, after being forced to abandon its attempts to reduce expenditure on personal independence payment (PIP) in April.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) statistics, released this week, show the proportion of disabled people applying for employment and support allowance (ESA) who were placed in the support group – for those with the highest barriers to work – plunged by 42 per cent in just three months.
For assessments completed during November 2015, 57 per cent of claimants were placed in the support group; but by February 2016 that had dropped by 24 percentage points to just 33 per cent.
During the same period, the proportion of applicants found “fit for work” – and therefore ineligible for ESA – rose from 35 to 49 per cent, while those placed in the work-related activity group (WRAG) increased from 8 to 17 per cent.
Fresh cuts to disability benefits spending will see a loss of nearly £30 a week for new ESA claimants placed in the WRAG from April 2017.