‘No further plans’ does NOT mean ‘no further cuts’

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Isn’t it wonderful? The UK’s new Work and Pensions Secretary, Stephen Crabb, stood up in parliament and said that the government will not be going ahead with changes to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

So, that’s all right then. We can all relax, campaigns can stop. The government has seen the error of its ways. Benefits paid to people with disabilities, like me with multiple sclerosis, are safe….

What utter rubbish, to put it politely.

Look at exactly what he said. The bold italics are mine and highlight important points to note:

  • The government “will not be going ahead” with changes to the Personal Independence Payment that were announced.
  • There are no further plans for welfare cuts this parliament.

This was seen through straight away, not just by me but also by a series of journalists who took to Twitter:

norman smithNorman Smith (pictured left), assistant political editor, BBC News, tweeted: “So £4 billion planned savings from PIPs will not be found from elsewhere in welfare budget…for now.”

ross hawkinsRoss Hawkins (right), BBC political correspondent, tweeted: “Saying no further plans to cut something isn’t – of course – the same as guaranteeing never to cut it.”

gabby hinscliffGabby Hinsliff (left), The Guardian newspaper columnist, tweeted: “So no more welfare savings (for now anyway). If he’s achieved nothing else, you have to admit that wouldn’t have happened without IDS.”

Tom Newton DunnAnd, perhaps the most telling of all, Tom Newton Dunn (right), political editor of The Sun newspaper, tweeted: “Treasury swiftly clarifying Crabb declaration on welfare cuts. Doesn’t at all mean no more cuts in this parliament, just none planned. Ah.”

In other words, be vigilant, be on your guard, keep campaigns ready to return to full force at a moment’s notice.

The battle over the proposed PIP changes may be won but the war to protect welfare benefits, even PIP itself, is far from over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now more Tory MPs face disability charities’ anger

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Further to yesterday’s post about Conservative MP Kit Malthouse being told by Andover and Rural branch of the MS Society that it no longer wanted him as their patron, other MPs are now feeling the heat from charitable organisations with which they are aligned.

The MPs concerned, like Mr Malthouse, voted in favour of cuts to ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) that will see many thousands of people with disabilities being new claimants of ESA, lose £30 a week, compared with current claimants in the WRAG (Work-Related Activity group), from April next year.

The Conservatives argue that stripping disabled people of financial security will incentivise them to find work quicker.

A number of Conservative MPs are coming under increasing pressure to resign their own positions as patrons for disability groups following their vote to cut disability benefits.

London Tory mayoral candidate and MP Zak Goldsmith (pictured above, left) is also facing a call from Richmond AID, a local disability charity, to explain his decision to take money off some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society.

Lucy Byrne, chief executive of Richmond AID said in a Tweet: “Richmond AID believes that the cuts to ESA which are due to be implemented on 1st April 2017 will have a severe and detrimental impact on the lives of disabled people and will make it more difficult for people to find work.

“It must be recognised that being a disabled person means higher general expenses, for example to keep warm, travel to activities, participate in the community and travel to medical appointments. For people that are close to getting back to the workplace, add to that the cost of taxis to interviews, smart clothes for work and internet access.

“We believe this cut moves disabled people further away from the workplace and increases the social isolation of people that are already vulnerable and experiencing barriers while seeking employment.

“We are shocked and disappointed to find that both our local MPs here in the borough of Richmond (Tania Mathias and Zac Goldsmith) have voted for this cut and plan to invite both MPs to our offices to explain the impact this will have on disabled people.    Lucy Byrne, chief executive of Richmond AID.”

Dr Taina Mathias (pictured above, right), an NHS doctor, is Conservative MP for Twickenham. Zak Goldsmith is Conservative MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, and is his party’s candidate in the London Mayoral election.