The Comprehensive Spending Review has received much criticism over the past few days.
None more notably than by the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) which have warned that Osborn’s cuts are regressive and that cuts in public services, housing benefit and DLA will significantly hit the poorest households hardest.
It is of no surprise then that community leaders such as Deborah Jack have also been vocal in their own opposition to the cuts and the impact it will have on the HIV community.
The Chancellor’s decision to put a one year time limit on the length of time a person can claim employment support allowance (ESA) is of particular concern, and as the National AIDS Trust’s CEO points out; “the move is likely to be detrimental to all people living with a disability, including HIV.
“What the Government has failed to take into account – whilst they can put a one year time limit on ESA – there is not a one year time limit on a person’s disability, or on the stigma and discrimination unfortunately associated with it. This is the reality of the situation people living with HIV face.
“The test in place for assessing a person’s eligibility for ESA is already incredibly stringent and only those living with physical or mental impairments deemed severe enough can pass. So for the government to announce that these people will now only be able to receive this benefit for a year is essentially penalising them with a time limit that is in no way relevant or reflective of their individual situation.
“People living with HIV are already in a position of vulnerability due to the attitudes of society and the nature of their long term condition, which can involve fluctuating symptoms. NAT’s new report Poverty and HIV has revealed at least one in six people living with HIV in the UK have experienced severe poverty, and this has dramatically increased over recent years.
Following this Spending Review, the poverty crisis for people living with HIV is set to get worse. A one year time limit on ESA will simply exacerbate the cyclical nature of HIV and poverty.”
Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT (National AIDS Trust)