What does the future hold for claimants?
- Category: Latest news
- Created: Wednesday, 23 March 2016 00:17
Many people will have their doubts about the claim by the new work and pensions secretary, Stephen Crabb, that there will be no more benefits cuts in this parliament.
And, as we have suggested elsewhere, there is no certainty that either Crabb or chancellor George Osborne will still have a post following the EU referendum.
But if they do manage to hang onto their jobs, what are the prospects of changes to the major sickness and disability benefits?
As we reported back in January, the government was planning to launch a consultation on abolishing attendance allowance for all new claims and giving the money saved to local authorities instead.
It seems highly likely that this plan will now be dropped.
Disability living allowance
It is exceedingly improbable that the transfer of claimants from DLA to PIP will be halted.
Even the dawning realisation that PIP may cost more than DLA is unlikely to make any change to that. It is now far too late to stop the PIP juggernaut.
Personal independence payment
The recent attempt to cut points for some aids and appliances for PIP was rushed through. If the DWP had done its usual job of softening up MPs and the public with briefings and press releases attacking their target claimants first, this could actually have been a relatively easy cut to sell.
All it required was a welter of publicity suggesting that some people with mild conditions just had to buy themselves a long-handled shoe horn, a raised toilet seat and a perching stool and they could claim £3,000 a year in benefits.
It would have been a lie, but it would almost certainly have worked.
Even now there is some wriggle room in the statement by Crabb. The DWP may well introduce changes to PIP regulations which they will say are not cuts but are simply intended to clarify the law and ensure that the original intention of parliament is followed.
The probability of more changes to PIP before the end of this parliament is high, we suspect.
Employment and support allowance
Will the cuts to the work-related activity group still go ahead?
The answer has to be that it is extremely likely that they will. They have already passed into law and IDS indicated in his interview with Andrew Marr that he remained in favour of them.
It would take an extraordinary amount of pressure to make the Tories reverse this cut.
IDS lost a court case on the day he resigned, which orders the DWP to publish documents which are likely to show that IDS misled parliament about what a mess universal credit (UC) was in from a very early stage.
IDS would almost have appealed this decision, Crabb may not.
There has long been speculation that the treasury, and George Osborne himself, see UC as an expensive shambles that they would like to axe. And that might well have been true until very recently.
However, when Osborne was forced to reverse his planned tax credit cuts earlier this year he managed to get away with leaving them in place for UC. This means that when claimants get moved from tax credits to UC the cuts will still hit them and the treasury will still save billions.
So, under the circumstances, it looks improbable that UC, however much of a mess, will get the chop.
We’d be the first to admit that this is all just speculation. In a week when IDS resigned and the government was forced to cancel cuts to PIP, it’s clear that anything could happen.
But whatever does happen, we’ll do our best to keep you informed.