The first was EDM 1791 tabked by Anass Sarwar MP:
That this House believes that it is the sign of a responsible society that it supports disabled people to lead an independent and fulfilling life; further believes that, while reform is needed, the Government’s current plans are causing unnecessary uncertainty and creating risks for disabled people up and down the country; further believes that the Government has failed to appreciate the cumulative impact of the changes it is proposing; further believes that ill-thought through reform of disability benefits could push thousands of disabled people into poverty; considers it irresponsible to time limit to one year the payment of contributory employment and support allowance which will affect people suffering from cancer and fluctuating conditions; calls on the Government to abandon plans to remove the mobility component of disability living allowance from 80,000 people in residential care homes; further calls on the Government to retain automatic entitlement for people who have severe impairments, meaning that blind people, the mentally impaired and double amputees will not have to face the distress of applying for support that they genuinely need; expresses serious concern that 100,000 families with disabled children will see their support halved as a result of the decision to replace the disability element of child tax credit; and further believes that disabled people should have to wait only three months rather than six months before they can apply for the new personal independence payment.
This is an apparently well-meaning Early Day Motion, but is a bit weak on detail and demonstrates that it is not just the Government who need a refresher course in disability.You should ask your MP to sign this EDM, but ask them to support the stronger EDM? 1756 at the same time.
Another news story that became apparent was that the Liberal Democrats have broken yet another promise. More accurately, they voted with the Government on the Welfare Reform Bill Committee to remove the mobility component from claimants in residential care, despite a motion on opposing restrictions to mobility component at the Spring Conference. I have touched upon this story before, but had to wait for the Hansard records of the meeting to be published.
As these records show, the Liberal Democrat MPs Ian Swales and Jenny Willott actually left the room when this issue was put to vote, meaning that the amendment tabled to oppose the Government's plans was defeated. Liberal Democrat members should hold their MPs to account for this further betrayal. The records also show that the ridiculous Jenny Willott had stooped to the level of voting against one of her own amendments, presumably in order not to upset Government whips.
The final story is regarding Maria Miller's interview on BBC Breakfast yesterday. Having swallowed a copy of the Daily Mail with her breakfast cereal, Ms. Miller said: "Well, it can't be right that we have a benefits system where, under DLA, more people who are either alcoholics or drug addicts are in receipt of the higher rate of disability allowance than people who are blind".
The real figures are:
DLA - 0-15 age group- over 65 age group
Blindness - 5,300
Alcohol & Drug Abuse - 100
DLA - 16 - 64 age group
Blindness - 45,800
Alcohol & Drug Abuse - 20,900
Blindness - 18,900
Alcohol & Drug Abuse - 2,000
The only reason that alcoholics and drug addicts are eligible for the higher rates is due to underlying behavioural problems or that the substance abuse has caused physical damage, and that up until last month blind people were not eligible for the higher rate of mobility. This may have been an honest mistake, but the Minister has seriously misled the public whether by design or not.