Benefits row ‘fuels abuse of disabled’

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Government focus on alleged fraud and over-claiming to justify cuts in benefits is fuelling abuse against disabled people, charities have warned.

Six charities said that labelling the disabled as “benefits scroungers or fakers” was making them the target of resentment, which some organisations fear could spill over into hate crimes.

The groups – Scope, Mencap, Leonard Cheshire Disability, the National Autistic Society, Royal National Institute for the Blind and Disability Alliance – blame ministers and civil servants for repeatedly highlighting supposed mass abuse of the system.

Tom Madders, of the National Autistic Society, said: “The Department for Work and Pensions is certainly guilty of helping to drive this media narrative around benefits, portraying those who received benefits as workshy scroungers or abusing a system that’s really easy to cheat.”

Some disabled people are said to be staying at home to avoid hostile remarks.