I guess you’ve probably heard the good news about the Welfare Reform bill in the House of Lords. But, as Lenny Kravitiz sang, “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over” as these amendments are still not safely written in black and white and passed as law. However public opinion is shifting towards our favour, a couple of days ago the Spartacus report made it’s way into the public realm, the Spartacus report was basically put together by disability campaigners such as the blogger/campaigner Sue Marsh, who incidentally had recently had her DLA application declined! I of course when offered the opportunity to have my voice heard via the Spartacus report jumped at it and indeed encouraged my friends to do so also. What this report has illustrated is that almost everybody who took part in the survey wholeheartedly disagreed with the proposals. It was the same story with the governments own consultation, (that’s when us charity types go through the proposals with a fine tooth comb and write to them with our thoughts) the vast majority of those who responded were very much against most of the proposals, but our friend Cameron and his chums had decided to cover up most of this information, carry on letting the Daily Hate with their vendetta against us disabled folk and push on with their plans. However the House of Lords have seen through the Condemns devious plot and seen the Welfare Reform Bill for what it really is, I don’t if I’ve got this quote right but one House of Lords member described it as “robbing the poor to give to the rich” indeed. However the bad news is that the Condemns may overturn the Lords’ changes and push through their cruel changes.
So what’s this all about, well I’ll invent a couple of fictional ticcers to illustrate.
Emily – Emily is 18, she’s just finished college and she lives at home with her parents, she has TS and ASD, whilst at college she had one-to-one support. Emily has just had her Work Capability Assessment and is now on ESA. As part of the original plans the amount of ESA Emily gets would depend on how much her parent’s earnings were. Don’t forget that at this stage Emily’s parents no longer get child benefit, and Emily’s EMA has stopped, all Emily gets is DLA (lowest care component). It turn’s out that Emily’s dad has a good job, so therefore according to his income she doesn’t get ESA. So Emily’s weekly income is £19 (or thereabouts). This will be the situation Emily and her parents until she can find suitable accommodation and leave home. But under the House of Lord’s amendment the amount of ESA that Emily receives will not be dependant on her parent’s income. Emily can now have a life and be able to do what most 18 year olds would do.
John – John is 40 and up until a couple of years ago worked in a car factory until his tics became too much and he wasn’t able to work anymore. John has 2 young children and his wife works as a teaching assistant. John currently receives ESA which makes up approximately 1/3 of the household income. Under the condemns plans after a year of John receiving ESA these payments will stop, regardless of the fact that John won’t be able to work. John’s family will be wholly reliant on his wife’s income, her tax credits and the child benefit for the 2 children. John will have no income; he will have no independence or no input in the family income. Under the Lords’ amendment things improve slightly for John and his family, as opposed to having ESA for just 1 year, John will be paid ESA for 2 years.
The last amendment means that if a person in a similar situation to John, (working partner) has to give up work due to cancer; they will be able to claim ESA indefinitely.
There’s still more points with regards to other parts of the Welfare reform bill to be discussed by the Lords, so there will be more news coming within the next couple of days.
So, yes, this is a victory for everybody who has been working hard campaigning, but there’s still a long way to go, so keep up the good work!