Reject the Welfare Reform Bill

28th January 2012

Call a National Demonstration!

Tory Iain Duncan Smith’s vicious Welfare Reform Bill (WRB), which the government aims to make law by May, will leave thousands destitute. The bill will affect disabled people particularly badly. The cap on benefits will cut additional support currently provided for disabled people, despite government promises. Even on the government’s own figures, 5,000 households with someone with disability will lose on average £87 a week.

These are part of the governments’ attempts to slash billions of pounds out of public spending. Iain Duncan Smith, by contrast, struggles by on a salary of £145,492, with £94,000 expenses and a pension contribution of £43,825.

The Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which under the bill replaces the Disability Living Allowance (DLA), is much harder to get and will lead to more disabled people losing out.

Even under the present system, judging who is eligible for disability benefits has been made much harder, outsourced to the notorious private firm Atos that uses staff with five days training that do not require any previous medical experience.

Atos are questioning around 11,000 claimants a week. Questions that can only be answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’ can lead to benefits being stopped. Over 400,000 appeals have been made against such test decisions since October 2008. 39% of appeals have been successful.

The House of Lords has passed a number of amendments to the bill, which Cameron and Clegg have pledged to overturn when it returns to the House of Commons.

But even these changes do little to blunt the axe being taken to provision for some of the most hard up. Guardian commentator Polly Toynbee described the amendments as ‘minimal’.

The fact that The Hardest Hit campaign welcomed these votes as significant victories demonstrates the limited ambitions of a campaign strategy based on amending the WRB in the Lords, rather than building a mass campaign to oppose this bill and all welfare reform outright.

What lies behind the parliamentary bluster of politicians is the huge anger that exists among unions, campaigning organisations and disability activists. This will explode when the real effects of the bill become clear to the majority of the population.

It is vital the disabled people’s movement builds a bold, energetic campaign against both welfare ‘reform’ and the public sector cuts.

We need to call a national demonstration in opposition to all ‘welfare reform’ to fight the bill and its consequences.

The Socialist Party calls for:

This article is also available as a leaflet in PDF format.

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