Friday, January 13, 2012

Welfare Cuts in the UK

On Wednesday the 11th January the House of Lords was debating the Welfare Reform Bill. They won the vote, by considerable margins, on three major amendments which they had tabled, in an attempt to mitigate some of the severest effects that the cuts will have on sick and disabled people.

Here are two articles appearing afterwards, in two newspapers at the opposite ends of the political scale.

Sonia Poulton in The Daily Mail - 12.01.2012:

We're all desperate for welfare reform, Mr. Cameron, but hiding the truth is not the way to achieve it.

Polly Toynbee in The Guardian - 13.01.2012:

Cameron's problem is that people are nicer than he thinks. When these welfare changes come into force, their savage effect will be seen – and then the public mood will turn.

Monday, January 09, 2012

The Spartacus Report on Responsible Reform

This report into Disability Allowance Reform has been written, researched and funded by disabled people, who see their basic but essential support benefits under serious threat by government reforms. I am very concerned by its findings and the misrepresentation of disabled people that it exposes. Here is an extract from the press release that accompanied its publication:

"A report published today (9 January) finds that Government misled MPs and Peers over the hostility to disability benefit reform. It finds that Parliament has been given only a partial view of the overwhelming opposition to the Coalition’s planned reforms of a key disability benefit, Disability Living Allowance (DLA). It finds that this opposition was previously not released to public scrutiny by the Government.

It is based on the responses to the government's own consultation on its planned DLA reforms, which were only made public once disabled people requested them under the Freedom of Information Act. Findings included:

· 98 per cent of respondents objected to the qualifying period for benefits being raised from 3 months to 6 months
· 99 per cent of respondents objected to Disability Living Allowance no longer being used as a qualification for other benefits
· 92% opposed removing the lowest rate of support for disabled people. "

The report has already been backed by organisations and disability experts including:
Disability Alliance, Mind, Papworth Trust, Scope, Bert Massie CBE & Ekklesia.

I am backing it too.

Oh yes, and just in case you wondered: The fraud rate for disability benefits is less than 0.5%, but the Government wants to reduce recipients by 20%!

[Illustration by Andrzej Krauze, first published in the Guardian on 8th January.]