Sandra Webster warns of the looming cruelties of Universal Credit • When big business is saying that this Tory Government are no longer the party of big business and reminiscing about the “halcyon days” of Blair and Brow it is fair to say the Tory Party are on a sticky wicket.
Look behind the headlines though and you can clearly see the calamity their reign of terror is having on ordinary people.
Figures the DWP are attempting to hide from public view. However even their allies are beginning to criticise their inhuman policies.
The process was started by Cameron and continued by May recently who outside Downing Street promised “to protect the most vulnerable.”
Their is no evidence of this as Universal Credit continues to be rolled out and it is being reported it can take sometimes months for payments to be made to working people and those of working age. That is months without any support to working families.
Despite this, Universal Credit will continue to be rolled out and devastate lives. Areas where the process have begun have all reported the terrible impact. Some of those who condemn it are even Tory back benchers and the DUP.
If the decision made for its continuation came back to parliament, there is the possibility the government might lose the vote so of course it will not.
It will be business as usual as the DWP are expected to make huge cuts in its budget.
I even heard an extreme right wing commentator describe benefits as a safety net. Far from the public eye is the impact on people with disabilities who receive work related ESA (Employment and Support Allowance).
Disability charity SCOPE estimates the average additional cost of disability to cost £550 per month. Those not placed in the support group or waiting to hear after not receiving enough points in the dreaded work related tests are expected to report of work related activities.
Scott is one of these individuals affected. He lives with autism and a visual impairment. He has been placed in the work related group.
Scott worked for REMPLOY for over 20 years. He needs support in employment. He has looked for work since the closure of REMPLOY and is desperate to work.
On the transfer to PIP his disability benefit was cut. He is a dignified man who looks exhausted and overwhelmed but quietly tells me he wants to work but knows he needs support.
He has applied for the tribunal to look again at his benefit changes but has not received a date yet. Charities report while over 80 per cent of working adults have jobs this drops to 48 per cent for people with disabilities on a national level. People are being bullied to find jobs that are hard to find in the present economic climate.
Charities have raised concerns about the impact of the rolling out of Universal Credit and the special impact it is having on people with disabilities who require support.
Tracy Lizard of Inclusion said echoing many charities, that people with disabilities are again bearing the brunt and that most of this is happening outside the public gaze. Charities estimate that people in the work related activity group will be worse off by £50 per week.
This has been seen in areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out. Universal Credit means that for someone in the work related activity group their ESA and someone who supports them carers allowance will be counted as income despite the extra costs of their disability.
People having to move to the Work Related Group lose a significant amount of benefit quickly. Many are on the edge of the cliff. Yet the most vulnerable will be protected. I ask myself who the tories consider this to be?
A hurricane is brewing and there is no shelter for people with disabilities who find themselves the target of this government.
While May attempts to “woo” young people there is little support for people with disabilities who remain the unheard in this. This is not a debate but a crisis.
There maybe a tiny glimmer of hope for payment of Universal Credit but only after an outcry by those regarded as allies.
It is our job as socialists to support our brothers and sisters and all who are being punished for the simple act of having a disability that impairs their ability to find work which often is not there to find or is unsuitable.
As the Voice has reported the Smith Commission was granted powers to deal with disability and carers benefits.
Jeane Freeman emphasises the need to get it right which may take a couple of years.
While Holyrood and Westminster blame each other, who will support those “economic units” not deemed to be worthwhile. Many cannot wait and do not have the bus fare to get to a food bank.
A storm is coming and it is our role to give the voiceless support to be heard and ensure an economy where there is again money for supported employment and indeed protection for the most vulnerable.
As we move to the right it is time to present an alternative vision and kindness that the left has.
That is why we are socialists.