A REPORT has claimed benefit cuts will take nearly £30 million a year out of the Neath Port Talbot economy.
Neath MP Peter Hain said the cuts to Incapacity Benefit and Disability Living Allowance would be devastating, and not only to those receiving them.
It would also, he said, hit the wider community as £30 million a year less would be spent in local shops and on local services.
The MP attacked the changes for disproportionately hitting industrial areas like Neath Port Talbot, which would lose the equivalent of £700 per working adult annually.
He said: “Neath Port Talbot’s high incapacity benefit and DLA claimant count is a legacy of the industries like coal and steel which our communities grew around and that provided employment for so many at such a cost to people’s health.”
Mr Hain’s comments follow a Sheffield Hallam University report, which showed Neath Port Talbot to be the worst affected local authority in the UK in terms of cuts to DLA with an estimated £7 million lost. It was also the second worst in terms of cuts to Incapacity Benefits with an estimated £23 million lost.
“The study shows the poorest in the country will be hit hardest by Government welfare changes with old industrial areas like Neath and Port Talbot set to be decimated by cuts across the board,” said Mr Hain.
“Across the UK an average of £470 per annum per adult of working age will be lost but the picture is far worse for many areas including Neath Port Talbot where each working age adult will be losing £700 per annum.
“The Government fails to understand that these cuts will not only impact on the individuals who will see their subsistence money cut, but also the local economy by taking millions of pounds out of it while at the same time claiming they want it to grow.
“If people don’t have the money to spend in local shops then the local high street will suffer.”
Mr Hain also criticised the “de-humanising” medical tests claimants had to go through, often leading to incorrect decisions which were reversed on appeal.
Many appeals were carried out with the help of Neath Port Talbot Council’s welfare rights unit.
He added: “The Government is expecting sick and disabled people to compete in an already over-saturated market.”