Future bleak for children, families, and disabled – new report

My word, the Equality and Human Rights Commission must be working overtime. It has published a dramatic report titled ‘The cumulative impact of tax and welfare reforms’, just days after it submitted a report to the UN’s Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). (See also my story here).

That highlighted the fact that the UK’s social security system does not provide sufficient assistance to tackle inadequate living standards.

welfare reformsThis new report exposes how much people are expected to lose because of ongoing changes to taxes and social security, including welfare reforms. It also reveals how many adults and children are likely to fall below an adequate standard of living.

The report, which looks at the reforms from 2010 to 2018 and the impact will have on various groups across society in 2021 to 2022.

Its key findings are that children will be hit hardest as:

  • an extra 1.5 million will be in poverty
  • the child poverty rate for those in lone parent households will increase from 37% to over 62%
  • households with three or more children will see particularly large losses of around £5,600

The report also finds:

  • households with at least one disabled adult and a disabled child will lose over £6,500 a year, over 13% of their annual income
  • Bangladeshi households will lose around £4,400 a year, in comparison to ‘White’ households, or households with adults of differing ethnicity, which will only lose between £500 and £600 on average
  • lone parents will lose an average of £5,250 a year, almost one-fifth of their annual income
  • women will lose about £400 per year on average, while men will only lose £30

Negative impacts include disability welfare reforms

According to the report, the negative impacts are largely driven by changes to the benefit system. In particular, these are the freeze in working-age benefit rates, changes to disability benefits, and reductions in Universal Credit rates.

Equality and Human Rights Commission chairman David Isaac said: “It’s disappointing to discover that the reforms we have examined negatively affect the most disadvantaged in our society. It’s even more shocking that children – the future generation – will be the hardest hit and that so many will be condemned to start life in poverty. We cannot let this continue if we want a fairer Britain.

“We are keen to work together with government to achieve its vision of a Britain that works for everyone. To achieve this outcome, it is essential that a full cumulative impact analysis is undertaken of all current and future tax and social security policies. We have proved it’s possible and urge the government to follow our lead and work with us to deliver it.”

Additionally, the Commission is reiterating its call for the government to:

  • reconsider existing policies that are contributing to negative financial impacts for those who are most disadvantaged
  • review the level of welfare benefits to ensure that they provide an adequate standard of living

Fine words and a sentiment that has my wholehearted support. Such a shame that Theresa May’s lacklustre minority government, propped up by Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists, won’t listen. Why won’t it listen? Because it doesn’t care. Simple as that.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.

Impact of MS on life need not always be negative

MS does impact my life. That may seem to be an obvious statement but let’s look a little deeper. There is more to this than meets the eye.

Yes, of course, this disease has many negative impacts on me, my life and my loving wife Lisa. But not every impact is necessarily negative. What? I hear you ask, have I found some ways in which MS has had a positive effect?

The answer has to be ‘yes’, no doubt about that.

Naturally, I can only talk about myself and not everyone’s experience will be the same. But, hey, that is multiple sclerosis – where no two people have exactly the same symptoms.

My symptoms mainly impact my mobility and balance so, outdoors, I need mobility aids. I use a rollator (basically a walker on wheels with brakes and a seat on which to rest) for short distances and a wheelchair for anything longer. I also have to cope with urinary urgency and continence issues.

So, what ‘positives’ can I draw from having MS?

Positive impact

There are many, including:

  • meeting a host of people, both in person and by telephone or online, that I would otherwise not have met;
  • new and often unexpected friendships;
  • writing for both MS and medical online publications;
  • using an electric powered wheelchair to restore some independence and to give Lisa a break from pushing me around;
  • visiting Moscow, somewhere I never thought I’d go, to check out its HSCT centre. My existing (non-MS) health did not make me a suitable candidate but the visit was worthwhile. And I saw the Kremlin, Red Square, the home of the Bolshoi Ballet, the former headquarters of the KGB, and more;
  • avoiding queues, or lines. From Radio City Music Hall, New York, through getting on and off cruise ships, to taking commercial airline flights, wheelchair users are given special and welcome treatment;
  • courteous treatment. Wherever I go, staff of shops, restaurants, everywhere are only too happy to help. And, more than that, even members of the public are willing to open doors, clear a way for me, and generally offer assistance.

These are just some examples. It’s by no means meant to be an exhaustive list.

Someone I have known for some time asked me the other day: “Surely, you don’t mean that you feel good about having MS?”

No, of course I don’t. Naturally, I’d be much happier to have a clean bill of health. But, as that isn’t the case, let’s make the best of it.

MS is not a reason to give up.

We are warriors. We must all look for the best in life and fight on.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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impact50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Clinical Writer with Healthline, the fastest growing health information site. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.