Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, millionaire Iain Duncan Smith, has pledged to cut the cost of benefits for disabled people by 20% — one of the “reforms” embedded in the Welfare Reform Bill.
The House of Lords recently voted down some of the measures relating to disability benefits on the grounds that they are arbitrary and gratuitously mean. Quite right!
None of the “reforms” in Welfare Reform Bill are about improving the benefit system for the people whose daily lives depend upon it but this reality is pushed into stark relief by the measures aimed at disabled people.
The reforms will see Disability Living Allowance replaced by a different payment, a Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Different how? Less money — including less money for young children disabled from birth.
And PIP is part of a package of cuts across the board for disabled people, from new limits on the size of houses and flats, to stopping top-ups to child tax credit.
The government’s main aim with PIP is to force disabled people to undergo more regular, more stringent, physical examinations to “prove” that they are disabled. The government claims to be interested in stopping fraud: but its own figures show that only 0.5% of DLA payments are made fraudulently!
The government’s current examinations procedure, run by big corporation ATOS, is already extremely severe and inaccurate.
Citizens Advice Scotland reported last year that “many clients are being found fit for work in their Work Capability Assessment despite often having severe illnesses and/or disabilities. Our evidence has highlighted the cases of many clients with serious health conditions who have been found fit for work, including those with Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer, bipolar disorder, heart failure, strokes, severe depression, and agoraphobia”.
The process for claiming DLA is already impenetrably bureaucratic: the application document is 40 pages long.
The government is tightening the screws on a system which is already skewed to force vulnerable people off benefits. It is further proof of the sadistic logic of the capitalist class’s cuts agenda.
Now the injustice is compounded by the fact that the hopes of millions of disabled people now rest on a vote in an body of unelected worthies, aristocrats and the super-rich.
The labour movement should be leading the way in this fight!