You know a story is rubbish when sources of information aren’t named.
This one, in The Guardian, would have us all believe that Conservative backbenchers are having a crisis of conscience (poor darlings) and don’t want to support the £4.4 billion of cuts for the UK’s most vulnerable disabled people that George Osborne just announced.
What utter rubbish. They’ll do whatever they’re told.
The plan is to take money away from people who need to pay for particular aids to help them perform normal functions, such as getting dressed or going to the toilet.
We may presume that, by removing their ability to do these things, Osborne intends to hammer their self-esteem so that they will soon consider suicide, in a manner that has been well-discussed on This Blog.
Labour reckons 200,000 people would lose access to Personal Independence Payment (PIP), with a further 400,000 having their benefit reduced.
Let us be clear: They would be just as disabled as they ever were – the cuts are because Osborne wants to make it harder for disabled people to qualify for the benefit.
People around the Tory Party, like David Kirkby of Tory think tank Bright Blue and Graeme Ellis, webmaster of the Conservative Disability Group, have voiced their concerns loud and clear, with Mr Ellis even quitting his job and renouncing his support for the Conservatives.
But the Graun could only suggest that “one Tory MP” had spoken to the paper – and no name is attached to this person.
Comments from the Department for Work and Pensions that this was the least harmful option offered by the Chancellor in the run-up are also made by Mr or Mrs Nobody.
These people do not exist, and nor does the backbench rebellion they suggest. It is simply an attempt to defuse public disquiet.
The economist Jonathan Portes, who used to work at the DWP, accused ministers of making “a mess of disability benefits”.
He argued that the shift from disability living allowance to personal independence payment was done to reduce costs, but the savings had not been realised.
“They didn’t listen to economists, bureaucrats or doctors, nor did they listen to disabled people,” he said, calling on ministers to stop cutting the current system and instead have a proper review.
Research by the charity Scope shows that disabled people face an average of £550 extra costs a month, compared with the able-bodied.
Mark Atkinson, chief executive of Scope, said disabled people, who were already struggling to pay bills, were very worried. The charity had received many anxious calls to its helpline as a result of the announced cuts. He urged the chancellor to think again.
He said: “Today the chancellor confirmed benefit changes that will make many disabled people’s lives harder. Half of disabled people say that they have struggled to pay the bills because of the extra costs of disability that they face.”
Phil Reynolds, policy and campaigns adviser at Parkinson’s UK, described the cuts to PIP as “devastating” and said they would have a profound effect on the lives of people with the disease.
He said the disability benefit system was no longer fit for purpose: “Thousands of people with Parkinson’s, who rely on aids and appliances for basic tasks like using the toilet or dressing themselves, will now find PIP even tougher to claim. Instead of being able to receive the support they so desperately need, they’re being penalised and shut out at every turn.”
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