15 October 2009

Disabled benefits claimants have finally found influential allies in their fight to save DLA and AA from being used to pay for the government’s planned national care service.  Bizarrely, one of these allies may even be David Freud, now the shadow work and pensions minister.

As reported elsewhere, Lord McKenzie of Luton admitted in a Lords debate this week that DLA is under threat from proposed changes to the way care is paid for (Senior minister confirms DLA is under threat)

What was also made clear in that same debate is that opposition to a raid on disability benefits is beginning to grow, even before any firm proposals have been set out.

Highly respected disability campaigner Lord Ashley of Stoke warned the minister that “any attempt by the Government to withdraw these benefits, or any benefits at all, will be very strongly resisted by disabled people, by their organisations and by many Members of both Houses of Parliament”

Lord Ashley was followed by another Labour peer, Baroness Wilkins, who told the minister that if attendance allowance were to be axed “many thousands of disabled people who get the benefit now, such as visually impaired people who fall outside the fair-access-to-care criteria, would no longer get any help with the extra costs of disability.”

Even Lord Freud, the investment banker who previously advised Labour on welfare reform before deserting them for the Conservatives, managed to sound disapproving as he asked whether axing these benefits was “moving away from the principles of right to control which are being included in the Welfare Reform Bill?”

There may not yet be protestors chaining themselves to the gates of Downing Street.  But before the summer recess ministers must have believed that they had succeeded in slipping into the green paper, virtually unnoticed and entirely unopposed, proposals to impoverish many thousands of disabled claimants.

Not any more:  many thousands of Benefits and Work campaigners have seen to that.  The truth is out and resistance is growing.


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