Is the tide starting to turn?

I get the feeling that the tide may be starting to turn in relation to welfare reform. This is just a gut feeling, nothing more, but I have some evidence – not that the Government is starting to  listen, yet, but that other organisations and individuals are finding their voice and that the media is starting to listen.

So where’s this evidence? Here’s just some:

However, the problem is that these achievements in themselves will not make enough difference. We need to build on them to ensure the Government cannot continue to ignore us. Since protesting in central London doesn’t even get reported on the BBC and is ignored by the Government, we need to think of something else to get their attention.

Ideas, anyone?

8 thoughts on “Is the tide starting to turn?

  1. There are numerous epetitions on the directgov website, which refer to various aspects of welfare reform, including PIP and DLA, which overall, represent most of the issues we’re facing. 150,000 signatures to a single petition will force them to refer it to be considered for debate in parliament – if ALL related petitions received this number of signatures it would ram home the amount of opposition to these reforms and perhaps it would be a start in sparking public debate. We are being ignored largely because of apathy and hostility brought about by press and media stories pushing benefit fraud, but that doesn’t mean that we have to be apathetic as well, and considering the huge numbers of disabled people who are going to be affected by these reforms, I am frankly appalled that signatures are not flying onto these petitions.

    I’ve seen numerous blogs and posts on websites from disabled people in relation to welfare reform. May I suggest that if you can blog, you can sign the petitions – a good slogan might be ‘stop whining and start signing’ All those disabled people – and their families, friends and carers – who are going to be affected by the changes and who have access to the internet, get on the directgov website and get signing. If anyone feels an issue is not covered, then start a petition of your own – the tools are there, so use them people !!

    Epetitions will only work the way they are supposed to if we flood them with signatures – then we may at least get a hearing. It’s worth a try, and in case anyone is in any doubt, I’ll use this reply to give you all a little taste of something else in store for us as a result of the welfare reform act. There has been almost no mention of the fact that In the run up to the introduction of Universal Credit in October next year, all contributory benefits are going to be aligned with the earnings rules for Universal Credit.

    This will include contributory Employment and Support Allowance – paid to those sick and disabled people who have worked and paid NI contributions but can no longer work. At the moment the benefit has an earnings disregard of somewhere in the region of £85 per week – this applies to personal income only, so partners or other household income is disregarded. This means you can have a modest occupational pension or do permitted work under DWP rules, and still get contributory ESA. When Universal Credit is introduced, ALL household income will be taken into account for contributory ESA claims with a disregard starting at 65% for earned income, and occupational pensions will be taken into account pound for pound with no disregard at all. This means that most claimants who have any combination of these other forms of income will lose most, if not all of their ESA entitlement – currently £99 per week at the highest rate. So next year, we will have a situation similar to the one we have currently for contributory ESA claimants in the work related activity group. These people are currently receiving letters from the DWP telling them their one year ‘entitlement’ to ESA has run out. Next year, similar letters will be going out to all contributory ESA claimants who no longer qualify because of this change, including those in the support group. This effectively penalises those disabled people who have tried to work and support themselves in the past and completely annihilates the notion that if you work and pay your dues, the state will help you when you can no longer do so. Worse still, is the fact that these people will be left with no other form of support, as they will almost certainly not qualify for the means tested element of Universal Credit, because it is subject the same earnings disregards. The phrase ‘gotcha’ comes to mind !!

    To put this into perspective, at the same time as cutting income to the absolute bone for the majority of disabled people, the government signalled in the budget, that any cuts to child benefit for higher rate taxpayers would be watered down and tapered to avoid ‘hardship’ caused by what they termed as a sudden falling away of benefit. Remind yourselves that these are people who are earning in excess of £43,000 a year and keep in mind that the government have no such worries about a sudden falling away of benefit for disabled people who have very little else to fall back on. If we are so strapped for cash as a nation that we have to cut back the welfare state, then shouldn’t we be starting with the people who can afford it, rather than those at the bottom of the pile ? Now remind yourselves that George Osborne has already said these cuts will not be enough and he’s looking for another 10 billion from the welfare bill in 2015. We already know that child benefit is off the table – it’s a vote loser. So ask yourselves who is left in the firing line ?

    I believe that the British people are basically fair. When they are fed stories about benefit fraud, they don’t equate them with ‘genuine’ disabled people. Unfortunately, this government has realised that the genuine claimants are where the most money is spent, so that’s where the cuts fall. If we can make the public understand this, we may get somewhere because when an able bodied person looks at a disabled person, the thought ‘what if that happens to me ?’ is never very far away. This is the starting point for making the public understand that if that day ever comes, the support they thought would be there simply won’t be. Flood the petitions with signatures and pester your MPs, and above all, get online and actually read the welfare reform act. There are very few of us who won’t be affected by what it contains.

    • Not a lot! 38 Degrees have been asked time and time again to support disabled people against the cuts but they are not prepared to do so. Because of this a lot of people are very disillusioned with them

      • There is one campaign on the 38 degrees website but I agree it’s not that great. They could be doing a great deal more if they tried!

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