Theresa May’s Tory government has said that it will decide no new welfare cuts. What makes this a half-truth, or even an outright untruth, is that big cuts, maybe even bigger cuts than the government can realistically manage, have already been programmed by previous Tory decisions.
“We will meet the previous commitments we’ve made”, as Tory minister Damian Green put it. For example, over three million people currently claim a total of £14 billion disability benefits in the UK. The programme of replacing Disability Living Allowance by Personal Independence Payment is still rolling out. By 2018, DLA will be gone, and only PIP will remain.
DLA used assessments from patient’s doctors; the PIP system instead uses contractors. The Department for Work and Pensions rejects 52% of all new claims.
In the first quarter of this year, 57% of over 7,000 appeals were won by the claimant; but those with the claimants with enough confidence, energy, and health to appeal. The already-programmed cuts in central government redistribution to local authorities will mean that the gap between funds available and the money that would be needed to keep the same level of services as in 2014-5 will rise from £6 billion in 2016-7 to £10.3 billion in 2018-9. More cuts in social care for the elderly, more library and children’s centres closures.
Capital grants for housing associations are still due to be cut. Universal Credit is still due to be phased in over the next few years. 2.6 million families stand to be an average of £1,600 a year worse off under the new system of Universal Credit than under existing tax credits, and 1.9 million £1,400 better off. The loss will be softened by income-protection for existing claimants, but will hit home over time. School funding cuts are still on track.