Welfare Reform

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2015 National Disabled Members' Conference
3 July 2015
Carried as Amended

That this Conference recognises that the current Government’s Welfare Reforms are an attack on the poorest and most vulnerable groups in society.

With the return of a Tory Government in May, and their commitment to make a further £12 billion of cuts to the Social Security budget, there is no doubt that the level of poverty will increase and make life even more intolerable for those whose lives depend on benefits.

The manifesto confirmed previously announced plans to lower the amount of social security payments that a household can receive to a maximum of £23,000 a year – although excluding disabled people claiming disability living allowance or personal independence payment – and to cap overall welfare spending every year in the next parliament.

And it confirmed plans to freeze working-age benefits until April 2018.

Although it repeats the claim that this freeze does not include disability benefits, the party has already admitted that this protection will not extend to the main component of employment and support allowance (ESA) or the work-related activity group top-up component of ESA, but only to the ESA support group top-up.

In December 2014, the Welfare Reform Committee of the Scottish Parliament commissioned research on the cumulative impact of welfare reform on households in Scotland from the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University

They reported that when the current welfare reforms come to full fruition, which is now unlikely before 2018, they can be expected to reduce incomes in Scotland by £1.5billion a year, or £440 for every adult of working age. The impact falls very unevenly on different places, and on different households.

There is no reason to believe that the situation in other parts of the United Kingdom will be any different.

Claimants with health problems or disabilities also lose out badly. Reductions in incapacity benefits are estimated to average £2,000 a year, and some of the same people also face big losses in Disability Living Allowance as well as reductions in other benefits.

Once details of their proposals are known, Conference calls on the National Disabled Members Committee to:-

1.Liaise with the NEC and Labour Link to launch a campaign to have all regressive changes reversed;

2.campaign that, in particular, the movement of disabled claimants from Disability Living Allowance to PIP should be ended, and the Work Capability Assessment and punitive benefit sanctions regimes should be scrapped;