Disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people as a result of additional associated costs, and Personal Independent Payments (PIP) is a key source of income to prevent real hardship. But yesterday the Tories changed the rules on PIP.
By shifting the goal posts, the Tory Government will strip entitlements from over 160,000 disabled people and people with chronic mental health conditions, money which an independent tribunal believe is rightfully theirs. Some claimants will not be able to access the full support they are entitled to – an effective cut worth £3.7bn.
This week the Government backtracked on their tax hikes for the self-employed in response to the uproar from small businesses - so now they should listen to calls from more than 30 disability charities who have written to ministers urging them not to restrict access to PIP, echoing Labour’s calls not to go ahead with these draconian changes.
At Labour, we have been fighting these PIP regulations since they were sneaked out at the end of February.
The Government refused to listen to the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) who, like the charities and disabled people’s organisations, they failed to consult before introducing these changes.
The Government disagreed with all of SSAC’s reasonable recommendations that there should be wider engagement prior to any changes and that these proposals should be tested before implemented.
We need to see people with mental health conditions being treated fairly and being properly supported to live full and independent lives. These changes would create a legal distinction between mental health problems and other kinds of impairments when it comes to assessments. So much for parity of esteem.
The Government has fallen well short of fulfilling their commitment here. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions even claimed that the new regulations meant people with a mental health condition could receive the enhanced PIP mobility rate when the new PIP assessment guidelines make it absolutely clear that they cannot!
Tory austerity has been devastating for disabled people, with debt, poverty and failing health.
I do not believe that, given the choice, the British public would chose cuts in Corporation Tax (which is lowest in the G7) over pushing disabled people into destitution or worse.
The Government needs to know that enough is enough. No more cuts in support for disabled people. Labour is committed to supporting deaf and disabled people to live full and independent lives. That’s why we launched the Disability Equality Roadshow last year, which aims to develop our policies to fight discrimination and promote true equality for deaf and disabled people, their carers and service providers.
So tell your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours to lobby their MPs to sign EDM 985, write to the Prime Minister, and sign our petition calling on the new regulations not to be implemented.