Ossett resident Peter Westwood marches on Parliament
Thousands of disabled people marched on Parliament on 11th May to protest about the impact of the government’s welfare reform policies on disabled people and their families. Wakefield MP Mary Creagh met with Peter Westwood from Ossett who is blind. He marched on parliament as he is worried about what the government’s changes to Disability Living Allowance will mean for him.
Mary said “I was pleased to welcome Peter to Parliament to discuss our concerns about what the government is doing. My Labour colleagues and I are calling on the government to think again so that blind people will not have to face the distress of applying for support that they genuinely need. We are tabling amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill so that people like Peter retain their right to support.”
Labour's position: We should help cut the deficit by cutting welfare. But this should be done by getting unemployed people into work, not pushing disabled people into poverty.
The Government are pushing through changes which will affect Employment and Support Allowance, the Work Capability Assessment, the disability element of the child tax credit, carers, Disability Living Allowance and the mobility component of DLA for those in residential care.
We agree with the Government that Disability Living Allowance should be reformed with a new, independent gateway and that savings could and should be made. But we also believe that there are areas where the current proposals should be improved.
Taken together the Government are now pushing through a raft of changes which are causing unnecessary uncertainty and risks with the lives of disabled people. They have failed to think through the consequences of the cumulative impact of these changes.
Labour is therefore calling on the Government to change course on key aspects of their proposals.
A number of the Government's proposals are failing the compassion test. They are failing to provide any safeguards to protect disabled people in genuine need of support.
Removing out of work benefits from people with cancer if they don't find work within a year.
Halving money available to disabled children by changing the disability element of the child tax credit.
Ignoring the advice of the Government’s independent adviser, Professor Harrington’s on the Work Capability Assessment descriptors.
Pressing ahead with the removal of the mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance from people in residential care homes affecting 80,000 people who use this support to visit friends and family.
Refusing to answer questions as to how the incomes of carers will be affected by the reform of disability living allowance.
Ending automatic entitlement meaning that people who are deaf and blind or people suffering from renal failure will face up to six months without financial support.
Making severely disabled people endure a face to face assessment meaning that blind people, the mentally impaired and double amputees will have to face the distress of applying for support that they genuinely need.