This in from the Isle of Wight Local Involvement Network (LINk). Ed
Members of the Isle of Wight Local Involvement Network (LINk) fear that the Chancellor’s October statement and the cuts in spending on which he has decided will intensify the problems already addressed in the Isle of Wight LINk ”Risk Impact Assessment Report’, which was presented to members by ROCC, an independent research consultancy, earlier this month.
Swingeing rent rises?
The cuts to the Supporting People budget, referred to in the report, are being followed by increases in Housing Association rents, the objective being that social rented housing will in time be available at 80% of the local market rent.
In practical terms, this could lead to swingeing increases on the island, which – given the island is a low-wage area – could make it impossible for working people either to afford living in social housing, or to obtain private lets. Members fear that these changes could imprison people in poverty by making it impossible for them to obtain work and continue to provide a roof over their families’ heads, unless there is extra support in terms of housing benefit to the low paid. There is insufficient detail so far in the government’s proposals to be certain that the most vulnerable and the poorest will be protected.
Concerns over benefit changes
Members may accept that a complicated system of delivering benefits needs to be simplified, but there are concerns that those presently on disability benefits will lose out in the process, particularly given ever more stringent tests of physical capacity. The island has significant ‘pockets on unemployment’, and fewer job opportunities than many areas of the South.
The disabled are therefore subjected to even higher levels of job discrimination here than they are elsewhere – it may conceivably be the case that a disabled person living in central London would be able to obtain a level of employment; but such employment is less available here. LINk members fear that the disabled unemployed will be penalised by these changes, and that far from helping them into work, the drive to reduce the numbers on Incapacity Benefit in particular will instead drive them into absolute poverty: no job prospects and lower benefit after one year.
LINk members are critical of the cut
Finally, LINk members are critical of the cut in the mobility element of Disability Living Allowance for those in residential care. For some, this will mean they are trapped within their homes, deprived of the lifeline which their own transport offers.
Many of us hope the government will look again at this decision, the implications of which have not been thought through.