Disability benefit cuts just not acceptable, Tory rebels tell Osborne


**Disability benefit cuts just not acceptable, Tory rebels tell Osborne

George Osborne risks parliamentary defeat over plans to cut £1.3bn from disability benefits as criticism of the scheme spread across Conservative backbenches.

The leader of the revolt warned the chancellor that the political unease was greater than that felt at the time of last autumn’s successful revolt over plans to cut tax credits.

Andrew Percy accused the chancellor of hitting “exactly the wrong people” in its proposal to cut personal independence payments (PIP) for people who need aids to help them dress and use the toilet.

The MP for Brigg and Goole said: “This is about need, it is not about welfare reform. These people have these needs. These needs are not going away and therefore the payments should not go away.**

“The difference on this to tax credits is, although difficult to sell and wrongheaded, people who lost out from them would eventually be compensated through the system. Whereas that is not the case [with PIP payments]. They will be permanently dis-benefited. That is where it is much harder for a lot of [Conservative] colleagues to swallow than the tax credit changes.”

Johnny Mercer, the Tory MP for Plymouth Moor View, tweeted: “Concerned by proposed changes to PIP. Not sure right direction. We must look after our most vulnerable at every turn. No doubt welfare spend still too high, but for those who really need it, it is lifeline.”
Government sources said that Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary who wrote to MPs explaining the changes, would listen carefully to the concerns raised during a consultation which is not due to end for a few months. The regulations introducing the changes are expected to be amended before MPs vote.

Some unhappy senior Tories say that the handling of the affair is reminiscent of the way in which Jeremy Hunt has alienated junior doctors in a bitter industrial dispute.

Wednesday’s budget revealed that the chancellor’s biggest single revenue-raising measure over the next five years would be cutting PIP by £1.3bn. The Office for Budget Responsibility said that 370,000 people would lose out on an average of £3,500 a year.
The seriousness of concern over welfare cuts was underlined when it emerged that three Tory MPs were asked to step down as patrons of prominent disability charities. Zac Goldsmith, the party’s London mayoral candidate, resigned on Wednesday as patron of his local Richmond AID disability charity after coming under pressure for voting for disability benefit cuts.

Kit Malthouse, the MP for North West Hampshire, was told to resign as patron of the MS Society, the national charity that campaigns on issues surrounding multiple sclerosis, and was no longer seen as “suitable” for the position after he voted in favour of cuts to ESA that would see people with MS among hundreds of thousands of disabled people to lose critical allowances.

James Cleverly, the MP for Braintree, was also told to resign as patron with “immediate effect” by Advocacy for All, a charity that works to help vulnerable people in the local area, who said they were “surprised and disappointed” to learn he had voted for £30 a week cuts to ESA benefits.

Downing Street defended the cuts on the grounds that health professionals examining whether people were eligible found that, after initial payments to fund aids to help disabled people, the ongoing extra costs were low or non-existent in 96% of cases.

Claimants are assessed for PIP by undergoing tests in 10 daily activities. If they are not able to perform the activities, or they need an aid or appliance, they receive points that go towards deciding whether a claimant is eligible. One of the tests is whether a claimant can dress himself or herself on their own.

The prime minister’s spokeswoman said: “Health professionals were asked to review cases where people qualified for personal independence payments based on a need for aids and appliances they have for their disability.

“What they found was in 96% of cases they were unlikely to have extra costs. For example they might have needed to have a hand toilet rail fitted in their home. Once that was completed they were unlikely to need significant extra costs over a sustained period that would therefore justify a weekly allowance.”

Justin Tomlinson, the minister for disabled people, highlighted irritation in some quarters of Whitehall at the chancellor’s handling of the cuts by saying that they were not a fiscal measure. In a BBC interview Tomlinson said that the changes were “sensible measures” to reform the system of payments which are designed to fund aids and appliances to help disabled people carry out basic tasks.

The chancellor said in his budget statement that the disability budget would rise overall by more than £1bn. But the budget red book said that there would be cuts of £4.4bn in welfare for disabled people over the course of the parliament. Labour pointed out that in the first year of the next parliament, in 2020-21, the £1.2bn in cuts to PIP payments will account for a third of government cuts.

Whitehall sources said there are sensible reasons for introducing the changes which are unrelated to the chancellor’s budget. A series of court judges had led to a growth in the PIP budget by extending the gateway to the benefit. “This is about making the welfare budget sustainable".

Percy said he welcomed the signs that ministers have acknowledged to his concerns: “I welcome the fact that the chancellor is listening to this as he done on previous issues. But the changes as proposed cannot be justified. The majority of the public would expect us – with PIP payments which are paid to people who are unquestionably disabled and have additional needs – to protect those benefits.

I don’t want a tax cut that is funded by kicking the crutches away from a disabled child. This government is nothing short of a disgrace to human dignity itself.

Why not take the money the government doesn’t take and give it to a charity to help the disabled? It’s not like the government is the only, or most efficient way to help the needy. Just because a single guy can live quite comfortably on $60k doesn’t mean a family can.

Why not be personally charitable to causes that will aid disabled people AND keep a comprehensive safety net for them through Personal Independence Payments?

Personal charity is no argument for reeling back essential financial support for the vulnerable.

Practically every British newspaper, left and right on the political spectrum, is leading tomorrow morning with this story of the backbench Tory revolt against the government’s inhumane proposal. There is mass outrage. Tory MPs have even said that their offices have been vandalised by angry constituents. Many think this law will not pass in parliament or will with a very slender majority. I pray it does not and the rebellion is successful.

“Comprehensive”, in this context, is a completely subjective term. It has no fixed meaning other than “more”. I’m sure there are families in Britain struggling on $60k/year that would like to keep a little more of what they earn too.

And I am sure that there are many more disabled people who rely on PIP as their lifeline to afford a mobility scooter, aids in preparing food, washing and bathing and using the toilet.

A very modest tax cut for the comfortable, relatively high-earning middle [and it is very modest] and shareholders (who are also getting a tax break), pales into insignificance beside that, as one of .the Tory MP’s leading the revolt reminds us:


But when the chancellor announced a series of tax cuts, the benefits of which would be felt overwhelmingly by higher income taxpayers, some backbenchers became unhappier still. Johnny Mercer, for example, seen as one of the more promising of the 2015 intake, told his local newspaper: “We must look after our most vulnerable at every turn. No doubt the welfare spend is still too high, but for those who really need it, it is a lifeline.”

I just saw it live again on the news. There is a serious revolt underway in the Tory Party over this issue.

Well here we are again with these people,somebody apparently keeps voting for them. As Aneurin Bevan said “lower than vermin”. At least they are consistent.

NEVER were truer words said :thumbsup:

Pure scum.

The government, through taxes, is typically the most effective way to help the needy.

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