In just five words in his autumn budget speech, Philip Hammond managed to whitewash the past seven years of Conservative-led rule. Because his statement showed that the Tories are either oblivious to, or unconcerned about, the chaos that their policies have created.
In his speech, Hammond said he wanted to create a country:
that cares for the vulnerable…
But if the Conservatives’ track record on treating disabled people is anything to go by, the Chancellor’s pledge means absolutely nothing.
A “human catastrophe”
As The Canary has been documenting, at the start of September the UN released its fourth report in 14 months into the Conservative government’s treatment of disabled people. It has said that the Tories have committed “grave” and “systematic” violations of disabled people’s human rights; that they have created a “human catastrophe” in the UK; and that they are failing disabled people in over 70 areas – from basic human rights, to not tackling discrimination, to the impact of austerity and welfare cuts.
The UN verdict comes after disabled people have been subject to years of attacks from the Tories. Because since 2010, the Tories have cut:
- 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.
- 51,000 disabled people’s Motability vehicles, which were vital for them to live independently.
- 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.
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.
- 62% of people that the DWP sanctions live with mental health issues.
- 10,600 people died after their benefit claims ended.
- Around 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.
All of this is without the disastrous rollout of Universal Credit.
If people wish to even consider Hammond’s pledge as being a serious one, they may wish to look at the past seven years for the evidence. Because the Conservatives have done less to care for the “vulnerable” than possibly any government in recent history.
– Read more from The Canary on the autumn budget.
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