Last night MPs overturned key amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill that had been won in January by Peers in the House of Lords. This is a blow to disability campaigners as it reinstates many of the Governments original proposals, including one which plans to reduce contributory Employment and Support Allowance to 12 months for those with a disability, but who are judged capable of working at some point in the future.
Ministers say they will use a convention known as “financial privilege” to effectively end further parliamentary opposition and push the Bill through to become law with no further challenge.
It is important to recognise that thanks to sustained pressure by campaigners we have had some significant victories – changing proposals that would have had a serious negative effect on the lives of disabled people, including:
- Overturning plans to cut disability benefits from people living in care homes
- The Government is no longer going ahead with plans to increase the time people must wait before they qualify for PIP, the successor to Disability Living Allowance
- Although stopping short of agreeing a full review, the Government committed to important concessions on the implementation of PIP.
There is more to be done, on Personal Independence Payments (PIP) in particular. The DWP consultation on the detail of this benefit that will replace DLA is currently open and later in the year regulations will be laid in Parliament. This means that we continue to campaign to ensure that the needs of all disabled people are properly understood and recognised in this new benefit.