DPA are backing the call to change welfare policy rules around the reduction of supports and benefits for people who form relationships. The Assembly signed an open letter in December last year calling for the individualisation of benefits.
“Many disabled people rely on benefits because they are unable to work or have difficulty finding work. It is unfair that they face losing their income because they have formed, or are forming, a relationship,” DPA Chief Executive, Prudence Walker says.
“Some people lose funding for their disability supports if they form a relationship. This puts an unhealthy amount of pressure on the relationship and can take away the independence of the disabled person.
“Restrictions in place to manage COVID-19 have been very difficult for the disabled community.
“Many people are having to cope with reductions in regular support services and trouble accessing essentials. On top of this, they may be facing increased anxiety that comes with managing existing health concerns during a pandemic.”
“People may need extra help with home management and personal care, emotional support, or to help care for a disabled child. The last thing they need is fear of losing income or support because of their relationships.”
The cost of living as a disabled person has also risen due to the pandemic and Level 4 restrictions.
“It’s harder for people to access cheap food, and people who wouldn’t usually need to use expensive delivery services now have no choice. It was already difficult to survive on a benefit, and now it’s even harder,” Walker says
“What we need at this time is a compassionate benefit system, not a punitive one.”
DPA calls on the government to move towards individualisation of benefits, in line with the recommendations made by the Welfare Expert Advisory Group in 2019.