The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has got an early Christmas present. But it’s one it probably won’t want.
The DWP: nothing to see here
Back in 2012, the WOW (War on Welfare) Campaign was launched. Centred around a petition that got over 100,000 signatures, it forced a debate on DWP reforms and their effect on people. Ultimately, it aimed to get the DWP to do a “cumulative impact assessment”. This is where the effects and consequences – both positive and negative – of actions or policies are assessed.
But despite the petition and the debate, the DWP and government still haven’t done an assessment. Both have also ignored calls from the UN to carry one out. The DWP claims it cannot do a cumulative impact assessment because it “cannot be reliably modelled”.
Time for a debate
This is despite a thinktank, Policy in Practice, doing a cumulative impact assessment on welfare reform; you can read it here. It found that, from a baseline amount in November 2016, by 2020 households hit by welfare reforms would be on average £40.62 a week worse off.
But still, the DWP refuses to do an assessment. So the WOW Campaign is back. And it’s now secured a debate in parliament:
It will be next Wednesday!!! https://t.co/Tt2iTpn9Cs
— WOWcampaign (@WOWpetition) December 14, 2018
It will happen after Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on 19 December at around 2pm. Labour MPs Debbie Abrahams and Kate Green have helped WOW Campaign get the debate. But it needs people’s support to make it as successful as possible.
WOW Campaign wants people to support the debate on social media:
#WOWdebate is next Weds!
we are looking for volunteers on Twitter from now until the debate to help us promote the debate and engage with people and organisations
If you would like to get involved (even for a few hours) get in touch!
— WOWvoices (@wowhour) December 14, 2018
It also wants people to write to their MPs, asking them to attend:
Please write to your MP to attend https://t.co/bYLsbIZuFV
— WOWcampaign (@WOWpetition) December 14, 2018
Meanwhile, Abrahams has been asking for people’s input for her speech:
I'm writing my speech for the backbench business debate on the 'cumulative impacts of policy changes' on disabled people this Wednesday. Let me know how the cuts in social security & other departments have affected you. @WOWpetition
— Debbie Abrahams MP (@Debbie_abrahams) December 16, 2018
And on the day, some people have organised a protest beforehand:
What you can do for #WOWdebate https://t.co/O4zWICbgS4 if you live in London and can travel join the protest from 12.15 Old Palace Yard @NicolaCJeffery @MrTopple @depresseddawg74 @Dis_PPL_Protest @LindaBurnip @AnitaBellows12 @BobEllard1 @blacktriangle1 @22magoo @imajsaclaimant
— paula peters (@paulapeters2) December 17, 2018
The WOW Campaign told The Canary:
The government is in denial of the cumulative effects of years of cuts and reforms, their official line is that they are now offering better support to severely disabled people. The signs that their policies are not working are there for everyone to see, with many disabled people hit not by one cut but by many at the same time. And even when the support is still there, it is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate a system that is trying to deny support by default, with severely disabled people having to jump through many hoops to get what they need and deserve. We have asked disabled people and carers to send us their experiences and the heartbreaking accounts we have been receiving are very different from the polished success story promoted by the government. We want the truth to be told and the hostile environment against disabled people and carers to end, and this debate is a way to promote more awareness to achieve that.
As the Canary exclusively revealed, despite its denials, the DWP has actually cut disabled people’s benefits in recent years. Moreover, the UN has now produced five separate reports following investigations into UK human rights violations. Yet nothing has changed. And amid all this, 10 claimants a day have been dying in recent years; ones who the DWP said were ready to move towards work.
It is staggeringly dogmatic of the DWP and government to refuse to assess the impact of the past eight years of welfare changes. But maybe now, with the weight of parliament, it and the government will be forced to properly assess the chaos and misery they have caused.
- Support WOW Campaign on Twitter and read more on its website.
- Write to your MP asking them to attend the debate.
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