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Benefits threat discourages activity in the disabled

We want to work with and across government to make active lives for disabled people possible.
– Andy Dalby-Welsh, deputy chief executive of Activity Alliance

More than six million people in the UK could be living or contemplating a life of inactivity because they are worried about losing life-changing benefit payments.

A new study by Activity Alliance has found that 47 per cent of disabled people – who account for one in five of Britain’s population, making up almost 14 million people – fear losing their benefits if they are seen to be too physically active.

The study, The Activity Trap: Disabled people’s fear of being active, shows that four in five disabled people would like to be more active, and almost two thirds of participants said they rely on benefits such as the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to be active. However, almost half were worried that these benefits could be withdrawn or reduced if they were to be reassessed as too active or independent.

Many are acting upon this fear and becoming less active, the report suggests. One example is the Birmingham Ability Counts League – England’s largest league of disabled footballers. The league had 455 players three years ago and now has just 250. Alan Ringland, chairman of the league, said: “I’ve seen players who have lost their PIP and aren’t able to attend any more. When you see them again, you see that they’ve not been as active as they were; often they have put on weight and over time their health may deteriorate.”

The report goes on to cite other examples where the withdrawal or reduction of PIPs has caused disabled people to be less willing to take part in activities that they enjoy.

Andy Dalby-Welsh, deputy chief executive of Activity Alliance, said: “The numbers within the report, although shocking, give us a starting point for change. We want to work with and across government to make active lives for disabled people possible. We would urge policymakers within national and local Government to take on board the calls for action within this report and the spirit with which it was written.”

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