Welfare Reform Bill Protest

By Cat Wiener Last edited 73 months ago
Welfare Reform Bill Protest


'We won't go back to the work house' – a melodramatic slogan maybe, but one that captures the sense that many feel, that the Welfare Reform Bill, currently going through its first reading in the House of Lords before becoming law next month, represents a major step in the dismantling of state welfare, a return to a darker, pre-Beveridge age of a 'deserving' and 'undeserving' poor.

Certainly it was a slogan that summed up the feelings of those gathered opposite the House of Lords on Wednesday, many of them living with disabilities, single parents and carers, a coalition of the dispossessed who feel victimised by the Bill.

Proponents of the Bill argue that the cuts in housing benefit (which will tighten rules on family size and restrict tenants to the bottom end of the market), to the Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Disability Living Allowance (which London Mayor Boris Johnson has opposed), the cap on universal benefits to £26,000 and the scrapping of the Discretionary Social Fund are essential to tackle a record deficit. A government spokesman said:

"It was important to... make sure the people who received benefits were the people who really needed benefits and make sure that people had the right incentives to get off benefits and back into work".

However, groups like Winvisible, which organised Wednesday's protest and lobby, say the Bill heralds a return to Dickensian days, with families facing eviction within central London, the disabled forced into work they simply are not able to do, benefits slashed to the most needy in society and single mothers expected to be 'ready for work' as soon as their youngest child is one.

The Lords went on to vote against key sections of the government's reform plans by 224 to 186. Plans to means-test ESA for disabled people after a year were condemned by Lord Patel as an immoral attack on the sick, the vulnerable and the poor:

"If we are going to rob the poor to pay the rich, then we enter into a different form of morality."

The other defeats were over plans to time-limit ESA for those undergoing cancer treatment and to restrict access to ESA for young people. The Bill now returns to the Commons.

Photo: Peter Riches at demotix.com

Last Updated 12 January 2012

Priscilla

It's a slippery slope. For many these revisions won't look too bad but their implication is deep and disturbing. Taking from the most vulnerable - the sick, old, poor and single parents - to foot the bill for the disgustingly well-off (defaulting banks, MPs' second homes, etc) screamsmore than oligarchy; it heralds a return to feudalism.

Stand up now before it's too late!

Daliwren

I dont trust Cameron,imo he is cold and calculating he has no compassion,The way in which people with disabilities are being treated is bordering on abusive behaviour,Since this Nazi like moron has been elected along with the rest of them,.Its just been the big plan  ,Camerons big society, we are all in this together IT said,We will look after those that need it most IT said,,The goverment issued a severe weather warning yesterday? but in November IT reduced the heating allowance for the elderly when the fuel prices had gone up,,,has this feeble excuse for a human got some sort of a mental problem or something? because that doesnt quite add up! unfortunately i think the reforms will get through because the general public have mostly jumped on the tory bandwagon and believe all the propaganda about so called 'benefit scroungers'...Also The likes of Cameron always get their own way...spoilt..I wish that more able bodied people would speak up for the disabled..Instead of the hatred aimed at the disabled engineered by the government , please stop being sheep. open your eyes, and never get complacent about your own health,because one day it could be you....I also appeal to you to research the covered up suicides taken place since the intimidation started via the dwp./atos/..concerning government reforms....I think that in the future Cameron will have indirectly killed a lot of people [lets not forget theres children involved in this to].DONT LET THEM DO IT...ITS CRIMINAL...