The War on Welfare campaign prompted a debate in the Commons yesterday, where the MP John McDonnell called for the government to “commission an independent cumulative assessment of the impact of changes in the welfare system on sick and disabled people, their families and carers”.  By a majority, the motion was passed.{jcomments on}

He also requested that this impact assessment examine care home admissions, access to day care centres, access to education for people with learning difficulties, provision of universal mental health treatments, closures of Remploy factories, the Government’s contract with Atos Healthcare, IT implementation of universal credit, human rights abuses against disabled people, excess deaths of welfare claimants and the disregard of medical evidence in decision-making by Atos, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Tribunals Service.

He called for the Secretary of State for Health and the Secretary of State for Education to jointly launch a consultation on improving support into work for sick and disabled people.

In addition, he called on the Government to end the work capability assessment with immediate effect, as voted for by the British Medical Association and which the president of the appeals tribunal denounced as “failing to coincide with reality”.

He paid tribute to the hard work of the War On Welfare (WOW) campaigners and petitioners, stating that they had helped to make history by securing this debate “on an agenda of their choosing”. He called them heroes and heroines for ensuring the campaign was a success.

“What do the WOW campaigners want from this debate? They have said that they want a serious debate. They want MPs, party spokespeople and Ministers to listen, and to listen well to the statements that they have made.

"What do they want us to say? I have asked WOW petitioners what they want me and other MPs to say in today’s debate. They said, “We want you to get across as best you can what the welfare changes brought in over the last four years have meant to us and our families—the stark reality.”

Why do they want that? Perhaps naively, they believe that if MPs and Ministers really knew what it is like, what disabled people are going through, they would not stand by and let fellow human beings suffer and be degraded in this way.

We met some of the disabled campaigners this morning. One of them said, referring to Ministers, “Do they realise that many of us feel terrorised by what the Government are doing?”

The MP also urged members to read the report “Counting the Cuts” published by Simon Duffy, the director of the Centre for Welfare Reform, who explains that disabled people in poverty are disproportionally bearing the burden of the cuts compared with the average person.

He goes on to praise not only Simon Duffy, but also Philip Connolly from Disability Rights UK: “They have done a terrific job and we should acknowledge the efforts of disability activists and supporters in this campaign in collecting such a huge number of signatures to secure the debate.”

Read the full transcript of the debate on Hansard


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