Disabled fearful of income loss, campaigners say
Eight-in-10 people claim losing their disability living allowance (DLA) will drive them into isolation, a coalition of 90 disabled people's groups says.
In a survey of more than 4,500 UK disabled people, the Hardest Hit campaign found nine in 10 fear the DLA loss will be bad for their health.
The DLA is to be replaced in 2013 by the personal independence payment.
The government said money was too often wasted on overpayments where people's conditions have changed.
At Prime Minister's Questions last week, David Cameron spoke of the plan to give more money to "severely disabled children" and a lower amount for less disabled people, which "showed the right values and the right approach".
The DLA is divided into two components - care (between £20.55 and £77.45 a week) and mobility (between £20.55 and £54.05 a week). Claimants may qualify for one or both components.
Exact details of how the personal independence payment (PIP) will be allocated have not yet been revealed and those wishing to claim it will have to go through a reassessment of their needs.
The Hardest Hit campaign, an alliance of disability charities and grassroots organisations, fears the new PIP will see the criteria for eligibility changed to the detriment of disabled people.
In its report, the Tipping Point, the group claims up to 500,000 people will lose out on "vital support" when the DLA is scrapped.
"Disabled people and their families are struggling to make ends meet and feel increasingly nervous about the future," the report says.
Its survey found 65% of respondents who were in work said without the DLA they would not be able to work and three in 10 said without the DLA their carer would not be able to work.
Three-quarters of those surveyed said losing the allowance would mean they would need more social care support from their local council.
'Debt and isolation'
Jaspal Dhani, chief executive of the UK Disabled People's Council and co-chair of the Hardest Hit campaign, said: "Disabled people, those with long-term conditions and their families are already at risk of hardship and face massive barriers to getting into work and education.
"Cuts to the support they depend upon risk pushing them into poverty, debt and isolation.
"The chancellor has just announced a further £10bn cut to the welfare budget. With £9bn having already been removed from disability benefits and services in this Parliament, disabled people are already at a tipping point.
"The government has some urgent choices to make, but must rule out targeting disabled people for further spending cuts in the next Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review."
Minister for Disabled People Esther McVey said there were a lot of misleading stories about the impact of welfare reforms on disabled people.
"The truth is - as the Paralympics showed - the UK continues to be a world leader in the rights for disabled people.
"However, too often under the current system we are wasting money on overpayments where people's conditions have changed, with £630m a year on DLA alone.
"Our welfare reforms will ensure the billions we spend better reflect today's understanding of disability and offer the targeted support disabled people need to live independent lives."
The Hardest Hit campaign is made up of more than 90 disabled people's organisations and charities such as Sense, the RNIB and Mencap.