Cuts to disability benefit are heartless

Disabled people are being let down by the Tories

Disabled people are being let down by the Tories

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This week, the Tories displayed despicable callousness by managing to pass a bill that will cut disability allowance by £30 per week - plunging some of the most vulnerable among us into yet greater penury.

Such heartlessly ludicrous cuts to the income of those who are, for example, in wheelchairs, awaiting cancer treatment or suffering from long-term conditions like Parkinson’s or muscle wasting diseases that greatly reduce their mobility and ability to apply for jobs that are available to those with a full bill of health, had been twice rejected by the Lords, who had rightly questioned how claimants would be affected.

A survey found that 28 per cent of people had been unable to afford to eat while in receipt of the benefit, around 38 per cent had been unable to heat their homes and 52 per cent struggled to stay healthy; which is to say, people receiving this benefit were already struggling and cutting it further would only augment their problems.

The Lords were forced to assent to the cut after the speaker of the Commons attached a financial privilege to the bill; protocol dictates that peers do not interfere with bills of this kind. The Tories were clearly focused on the £1.3 billion this draconian measure will save the Treasury, and whatever about the added suffering this will mean for some of our poorest.

“This is a black day for disabled people,” observed the independent crossbencher Lord Low of Dalston. Indeed, half a million will be affected by this proposal at a time when they are already struggling to make ends meet. Leaving disabled people mired in poverty will in no way help bring them any closer to the workplace, but Conservative ministers have insisted that cutting the ESA entitlement from April 2017 for new claimants in the work-related activity group would provide a greater incentive for them to seek employment.

A list of Tory MPs who pledged their support for this ghastly business included outright millionaires Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Gove, Zac Goldsmith, Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson. For shame.

But, so long as the financial elite are raking it in, tally ho.

This is all part of the well-calculated Tory austerity project, wherein the poorest are ever more penalised to benefit an economy which facilitates the excesses of our financial elite - the very people who instigated the 2008 global financial crisis in the first place.

Austerity has achieved nothing but making the most desperate among us yet poorer. And what is the Conservatives’ solution? Carry on regardless and cut deeper next time.

US economist Paul Krugma has shown that since 2010 every country that introduced significant austerity has seen its economy suffer.

Krugman has incisively observed that: “Conservatives like to use the alleged dangers of debt and deficits as clubs with which to beat the welfare state and justify cuts in benefits; suggestions that higher spending might actually be beneficial are definitely not welcome. Meanwhile, centrist politicians and pundits often try to demonstrate how serious and statesmanlike they are by calling for hard choices and sacrifice (by other people).”

When will the Tories stop feeding us the patently absurd idea that the only way to economic recovery is to further punish the poor? And where will this end?