Hardest Hit North East and South Tyneside Public Services Alliance held a meeting on 31 August 2012 to discuss the government’s welfare reforms. The event was attended by more than 100 people including many who have, or will be affected, by cuts. Speakers included David Miliband MP, South Tyneside Council Leader Iain Malcolm and Hardest Hit North-East spokesman Peter Bennetts.
David Miliband MP has urged politicians not to use the Paralympics to “cover up” drastic changes to disabled people’s benefits. His speech drew attention to the fact there are half a million people who have the threat hanging over them that the Disability Living Allowance they currently rely on will be taken away from them.
He said, “Once again, we are seeing the most vulnerable being hit by this Government. As MP for South Shields, I will continue to stand up for my constituents.”
“One thing I can assure constituents is that I will continue to tackle the Government when they are wrong, and I know the Labour Party nationally and locally will continue to speak up for the ever-growing number of people that this Government is ignoring.”
South Tyneside Council Leader Iain Malcolm discussed what his he had been doing to try and protect the most vulnerable, including ensuring that the most severely disabled would be protected in the cuts to council tax benefit the government have made and passed on to be implemented locally. He described the government’s reforms as an “an ideological attack on the welfare state”.
Peter Bennetts a local disability campaigner and Hardest Hit North-East spokesman said, “I may lose the higher rate of mobility which people who are registered blind are currently guaranteed, despite the fact the cuts to Disability Living Allowance are not supposed to hit the most vulnerable according to the Prime Minister.”