The Welfare Reform Bill will make life harder for the most vulnerable members of society, particularly those who are disabled. Kaliya Franklin writes:
Included in the bill are proposals to remove the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance from state funded care home residents, the most vulnerable of all. In such circumstances mobility allowance is used to fund accessible transport. This could be a motability car, but is often accessible taxis or specialist wheelchairs. Removing this payment would see care home residents virtual prisoners and those who use wheelchairs confined to bed. This is a long way from protecting the vulnerable.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was New Labour’s answer to the perceived Incapacity Benefit ‘problem’ widely reported to have serious failings as an assessment process. It has already left people without benefits whilst they are terminally ill. The method of assessing people for ESA, the Work Capability Assessment is to be continued, despite over 40% of claimants appealing against the decision and 70% of those winning their appeals with representation.
The bill proposes an arbitrary time limit on contributions based ESA of 12 months, meaning unless the claimant is entitled to means tested benefits ESA will cease regardless of their health condition. Time limiting ESA is effectively a tax on working families as many will simply not be able to continue working without additional funds for transport, treatment or care and consequently will be forced to become fully reliant on the welfare state.
The bill also proposes to scrap Disability Living Allowance and replace it with a Personal Independence Payment of which the stated aim is to reduce eligibility by 20%. The Department of Work and Pensions’ own statistic report that Disability Living Allowance has a fraud rate of 0.5% makes a mockery of government claims that this is about reducing fraud.
I understand the Bill is due to be discussed by the Lords. If they ratify it, it becomes a reality. It will literally make life unliveable for many folk. Whilst anti-cuts campaigners have been up in arms over plans to sell of the forests, close libraries, and reduce public sector pensions, there has been considerably less noise over the Goverment’s War on the Disabled – neither UK Uncut, nor 38 degrees have taken up this up. Where’s the Benefit has info about how you can help:
- Sign the Petition asking for a proper debate in the Commons over the reforms – this will buy campaigners a bit more time.
- If you are, or you know people who are, in the UK Uncut inner circle then please beg them to do something. Occupations ditto. OccupyLSX were asked to support Hardest Hit rally in London in October. They didn’t. Please, please try to change this.
- If an organisation receives a restricted donation earmarked for a specific cause they have to either spend it as the donor requests, or return the money. With bodies like 38 Degrees funding their campaigns through asking for member donations, perhaps one can send them a restricted donation earmarked to only be spent on fighting the welfare reform bill.
- Write to your MP.
- Write to a Lord. Pick a Lord, pick any Lord. Pick several. Write to them, beg them to see what they’re doing. The Lords is where the bill is right now and there’s only one reading left. There’s a list of Lords and their contacts here.