What’s Going On With Cuts to Benefits?

By: A.C.

Over the last few days, I’ve tried to find out if the recent statements about PIP/DLA being scrapped also included the legislation which was forced through by Ian Duncan Smith after the Lords had sent the legislation back for reconsideration twice, just a couple of weeks ago, when  the legislative ping –pong was reported on our Facebook Page.

The Huffington Post reports that the new DWP Secretary Stephen Crabb said in the House of Commons:

 “I can tell the House that we will not be going ahead with the changes to PIP that were put forward,” Mr Crabb said in a statement. “We won’t be seeking alternative offsetting savings.

I can also confirm that after discussing this issue over the weekend with the Prime Minister and the Chancellor we have no further plans to make welfare savings beyond the very substantial savings legislated for by Parliament two weeks ago – which we will now focus on implementing.”

So it looks like the Welfare Reform Act, and therefore cuts to ESA/WRAG, will go ahead.

Over the last few years, it has been a hard job for all volunteers, advisors, commentators and so on to keep up with the rules and legislation as IDS and his Dept., kept changing the goalposts and criteria.

In an article in The Guardian Jonathon Portes reports the facts about WRAG/ESA : “People who claim employment and support allowance (ESA) and, after a medical test, are assigned to the “work-related activity group” (Wrag) are those who are found to have a “limited capability for work” but may be capable of returning to work in due course. They may be expected to take part in “work-related activity”, but they are not required to look for work, and they are emphatically not “fit for work”. If they were “fit for work” – which is an entirely different outcome of the test – they would not be entitled to ESA at all”

The article then goes on to report that a Facebook post by a prominent Tory MP who stated this:

“These people are in the work-related activity group (Wrag) and they do have a disability or illness but are able to work. Any disabled person who is unable to work due to ill health or disability is in the support group of ESA. They are wholly unaffected by the change, as only those who are fit to work and actively seeking work are included in the work-related activity group.” .

As the author of the article points out:

“As should be apparent from my explanation above, this is false and this original post has been updated “as it previously contained a factual inaccuracy”. It could only be written by someone who was entirely ignorant about how ESA actually works. Someone who thought it was fine to vote on cuts to benefits for people who are unemployed due to ill-health, without reading any of the voluminous briefings prepared for him and his fellow MPs by the House of Commons Library, Citizens Advice, or any of a number of disability charities. And then to insult them by trying to justify this vote without having the first clue what he was talking about.”

Who was the prominent Tory MP? The New Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions –  Stephen Crabb MP. 

It does say a lot about politicians who are probably not even reading legislation, trying to understand the effects, or even listening to charities, groups or activists, before they blindly vote on ideological legislation. Good money if you can get it if all you have to do, is to do nothing and vote for a powerful Department head and his legislation, because someone twists your arm.

Self–serving as regards their careers, egocentric and obsessed with austerity cuts, might be the words to describe those MP’s who voted this particular legislation through. How many actually knew what would happen to hundreds of thousands of disabled people as result of their actions?

I do not believe a single word of what Ian Duncan Smith said in his “crocodile tears” interview with Andrew Marr on Sunday20 March as IDS’ record over the last six years speaks for itself.

However, at least the disabled got a word in edgeways yesterday, on the BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme.  It would appear that as usual in all the chatter at the Westminster Village, , journalists, correspondents and politicians were discussing the disabled, in the same way that folk talk to a wheelchair pusher, and not the person in the wheelchair.

Go here to see the full video version of the BBC ‘s Victoria Derbyshire interview with several disabled people.

The lady in the wheelchair to the right in the video pulls no punches in her opening statement.

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