Political parties quizzed on welfare and disability election promises

Published date: 15 Apr 2015 at 9:13AM

On 14 April, we joined up with the four other charities that make up the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) to hear how five of the political parties plan to support the 11 million disabled people in the UK if they are elected to government in May.

This unique panel discussion allowed disabled people and their families to question leading welfare and disability spokespeople on what they will do to make sure disabled people get the support they need, when they need it.

General Election 2015: making welfare work

Panel members kicked off the debate by outlining their parties’ policies and sharing their own thoughts on what needs to happen to the welfare system:

  • Councillor Star Etheridge (UKIP) proposed to get rid of the work capability assessment, introduce accessible benefits forms, and increase carer’s allowance
  • Baroness Celia Thomas of Winchester MBE (Liberal Democrats) proposed to get rid of the 20 metre rule in the work capability assessment, improve training for disability employment advisors in Job Centres and better promote for Access to Work
  • Kwasi Kwarteng (Conservatives) proposed to prioritise reducing delays in Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Marion Turner-Hawes (Green Party) proposed to invest £1bn into Disability Living Allowance (DLA)/PIP, double carer’s allowance and abolish the bedroom tax
  • Stephen Timms (Labour) proposed to abolish the bedroom tax, reform the work capability assessment, and prioritise reducing delays in PIP

What are the issues with the welfare system?

Disabled members of the audience and their supporters raised a plethora of issues with the political candidates, including: the negative impact of the assessment process for disability benefits, inappropriate sanctions, where reductions in welfare budgets will come from and ideas around starting education about attitudes towards disabled people in schools.

Claire Nurden from the MS Society asked how the parties would support disabled people affected by delays to PIP:

“Stricter criteria for the benefit, like the 20 metre rule, are leaving disabled people trapped in their homes, losing access to Motability vehicles and the financial support they need to get out and about. What will each of the parties do to address these issues as a matter of urgency?”

Why was this event important?

Georgina Carr, co-chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium and External Relations Manager at the MS Society, said:

“Welfare and disability is one the most important, and divisive, issues ahead of the General Election. Crucially, this event allowed the people who are feeling the effects of the changes to the benefits system to make their voice heard, and call for much needed change.

“We urge the next government, whoever it may be, to make sure that disabled people are not disproportionately affected by policy decisions, and can access the right support for them at the right time.”

What can you do to help put MS on the election agenda?

What we do in the time in the run up to the General Election could be critical to making sure MS is on every party's agenda. 

Give MS a voice today.

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Page last updated: 08 May 2015

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