Our community reporter Spring Heeled Jack has written a series of short articles which we will share over the next few weeks.
Here is the latest installment of Hard Times.
Further Welfare Cuts
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne decided in his budget statement in March 2016 that the government needed to make further cuts across the departments.
This included the DWP and in particular, the relatively new Personal Independence payment (PIP), where swinging cuts needed to be made to balance the books.
Osborne stated that further welfare cuts were essential to make a budget surplus by 2020.
However, he had already failed to meet his own targets for spending and borrowing reductions, which were previously made in 2010.
Meanwhile disabled organisations and groups made clear that the proposed cuts were a step too far, where drastic spending reductions on PIP would seriously impact on the weakest and most vulnerable people in society.
Essential financial support would be withdrawn and severely disabled people would no longer be able to cope with activities that able bodied people could do in their daily lives.
For instance, the Motability scheme where people could walk more than 20 metres would be finished for the mobility component of PIP.
Severely disabled people reported that they had lost their mobility allowance and car, which meant that they couldn’t leave home.
This affected double amputees and other individuals with severe mobility difficulties.
The matter was reported to the media and pressure was brought to bear on the Chancellor to halt the proposed cuts, which also affected the care component of PIP.
Many disabled claimants had been granted lifetime awards for Disability Living allowance on an indefinite basis due to their care and mobility needs.
The final outcome was that the Conservative government won a House of Commons vote by 311 to 275, where MPs wanted to continue with further welfare spending reductions or cuts.
However, Iain Duncan Smith the DWP minister stated that the proposed welfare cuts to PIP were unacceptable and he resigned on Friday 18 March 2016 over the matter.
Duncan Smith was subsequently replaced by Stephen Crabb, but there has been no further cuts mentioned or planned in the meantime (as of April 2016).
The media are acutely aware of the situation that further welfare cuts will have to be made but George Osborne has not yet indicated where these will be or when it will happen.
In the meantime, literally thousands of severely disabled people remain on the margins of society due to the austerity measures introduced firstly by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition administration from May 2010 to May 2015.
This has continued under the present Conservative government with no sign of matters changing to date.
Article submitted by Spring Heeled Jack.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not the Digital Sentinel.