80,000 people have been quietly hit because of Tory attacks on welfare

Theresa May Welfare
Steve Topple

Another 80,000 people appear to have lost their benefits under the Conservative government. And this time, it’s not the result of a direct government cut; but because of sustained attacks on welfare by Theresa May’s Tories.

Cutting by stealth

As AutoExpress reported, the number of people claiming an exemption from vehicle tax dropped by around 80,000; from 1.35 million in February 2015 to 1.26 million in 2016. And while there is no explicit reason for the fall, it may well be the blowback from other benefit cuts.

People can claim an exemption from vehicle tax if they get the higher rate of the mobility component of either Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA). But figures obtained by the Labour Party show that more than 134,000 had their PIP claim rejected in 2016. And on top of this, since 2013 around 51,000 people have lost their government-provided ‘Motability’ vehicles; cars that are specifically adapted for a person.

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Assault on the ‘welfare state’

But these figures are just the tip of the iceberg. As The Canary has been documenting, in the space of a year, the UN has released three reports into the current and previous Conservative governments, and the former Coalition one. And in each, it heavily criticised the Tories’ policies regarding sick and disabled people; going so far as to say that they had committed “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights.

And due to their austerity agenda since 2010, which the UN said “disproportionately” hit disabled people the hardest, the Tories have cut:

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  • The Independent Living Fund (ILF), which previously supported people with care packages. Since the government cut it, in some areas 88% of people have seen their care packages reduced by up to 50%.
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for sick and disabled people in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG) by a third. This will affect 500,000 people.
  • 55% a week from ESA for sick and disabled 18-to-25-year-olds.
  • Personal Independence Payments (PIP) from 164,000 people living with mental health issues. And the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has reduced or stopped PIP for nearly half (45%) of all claimants.

Tory violations

But it’s not just Tory cuts that have hit sick and disabled people so hard. For example:

  • The DWP was caught up in a scandal involving fit-for-work assessors asking people why they hadn’t “killed” themselves.
  • A study found that the DWP fit-for-work assessments caused people permanent mental health damage.
  • 62% of people the DWP sanctions live with mental health issues.
  • 10,600 people died after their benefit claims ended.
  • 90 people a month are dying after the DWP declares them ‘fit for work’.
  • 590 people may have taken their own life due, in part, to DWP fit-for-work tests.

It appears that parliament’s summer recess has spelled nothing but bad news for sick and disabled people. The Tories’ have sneaked out cuts and tried to bury reports, all while minimal scrutiny is possible. But with the UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled People grilling the government on 23 and 24 August over its treatment of disabled people, the Tories could soon be coming unstuck.

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