The latest atrocity to be inflicted on the innocent by the Conservative government became the opening act of a three-part farce on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday (November 18), demonstrating everything that is wrong with our government and its complicit media.
The story, broken by The Sunday Times, concerns 19-year-old Emily Lydon, who was born brain-damaged after her mother contracted the human form of mad cow disease (BSE), but now faces losing her home because of benefit cuts linked to the switch to Universal Credit.
Her mother died when she was seven months old and since then she has been raised by her grandmother, 68-year-old Jean Godfrey. But last month the Department for Work and Pensions told Ms Godfrey their joint income was to be slashed from the £720 a week needed to pay for Emily’s 24-hour care and transport to £342. She now faces having to sell their bungalow in East Markham in Nottinghamshire.
Ms Godfrey pointed out that it was a failure of a former Conservative government that allowed BSE into the food chain – by allowing sick cows to be slaughtered, minced and fed back to other cattle as “cannibal cow-feeds”, spreading BSE to herds across the UK and into human beings who ate beef.
Emily’s mother, Sally Evans, was unknowingly developing variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) before becoming pregnant. It attacked her brain and that of Emily, and she died in May 2000, aged 24.
Emily cannot speak or eat. She is fed with a syringe, is doubly incontinent and cannot walk – but DWP staff made her attend a work capability assessment at a job centre in Retford, then sent staff to review her case at her day centre.
They awarded her £58 a week in Universal Credit – and cut other benefits totalling £520 a week.
The review left them with £342 a week — less than half what they had been getting — and they were also left with extra mortgage and transport costs.
After The Sunday Times spoke to the DWP, a civil servant contacted Ms Godfrey and offered an extra £150 a week – but she said it still wasn’t enough to prevent her from having to sell the house.
You can read the full story in the newspaper. For some reason it isn’t behind a paywall (or wasn’t when I read it).
How Universal Credit treats permanently disabled people. Cuts their benefits in half and puts them through pointless work capability assessments https://t.co/eFfF7zlkST
— Paul Lewis (@paullewismoney) November 18, 2018
Reaction to the story has been universally negative:
“So what is your proudest achievement?”
Tories: “I think it’s probably making a severely disabled girl homeless” pic.twitter.com/mbOc1g25Xr
— David Schneider (@davidschneider) November 18, 2018
It even attracted sympathy from Tory MP Anna Soubry, who tweeted: “No ifs no buts no excuses this is a disgrace & NOT what I voted for when supporting much needed benefit reforms.”
Unfortunately for Ms Soubry, and as Frances Ryan points out below, it was exactly what she voted to support. Dr Ryan, whose work in The Guardian has exposed the facts about Tory cuts to sickness and disability benefits, was right to point out that Tory rhetoric about protecting the “real disabled” was nothing other than a filthy lie.
I’m sorry, Anna but this is exactly what you voted for. Disability benefit cuts were built on the Tory rhetoric the “real disabled” would be protected. It was a lie – and thousands of disabled people like this woman are suffering because of it. https://t.co/RpApZ0NLag
— Frances Ryan (@DrFrancesRyan) November 18, 2018
Jonathan Portes offered up a more plausible reason for Ms Soubry’s outburst:
It would be more dignified and honest for @Anna_Soubry to accept this *is* what she voted for, but she now sincerely regrets not listening to those who, at the time, warned her of the consequences. https://t.co/GYaulBdJgG
— Jonathan Portes (@jdportes) November 18, 2018
We shall see that it would have been better if Kwasi Kwarteng had adopted a similar attitude…
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