Thousands of disabled people in Erdington face losing desperately needed support whilst the wealthiest are handed tax cuts – “Immoral” says Jack Dromey MP.
A temporary tactical Tory retreat is not good enough.
Jack Dromey, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Erdington, today said, referring to weekend reports that the cut to PIP would not go ahead at this stage, “a temporary tactical Tory retreat is not good enough.” Drawing attention to the immoral cuts to people with disabilities in Erdington, 2,233 local residents reliant on PIP alone, he called for “a cast-iron guarantee” that there would be no further cuts to support for the disabled.
On top of the abolition of the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) for those who claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was due to be cut by a total of £4.4bn. It remains the case, however, that a third of total cuts over the next four years will fall on those with disabilities.
Jack Dromey MP said:
“In a budget which has handed massive tax cuts to the richest people in our country, cutting support to disabled people is utterly immoral.
“Only this Government could place the biggest burden of austerity on the shoulders of the most vulnerable. Despite the Tories temporary climb-down thousands of disabled people in Erdington still fear losing thousands of pounds a year when they currently have barely enough money to survive on.
“One of my constituents who has severe mental and physical disabilities and receives ESA as well as PIP, despite it having been initially rejected, relies on the generosity of family and others to survive. The cuts to his support that he is facing has worsened his mental health meaning he is less likely to be able to work.
“This is, sadly, not a unique story. Whilst the Tories claim the cuts will encourage people into work, they fail to realise that the people who they are cutting from only have the chance to work if they get the support they rely on. Cutting this drives them further away from work, not closer to it.
“I join with my fellow Labour MPs and a multitude of charities and organisations up and down the country in asking the Government to abandon these cuts. The most vulnerable people in our society must be protected.
“Now that we have seen the Secretary of State who oversaw the changes resign, we need a cast-iron guarantee that disabled people, the hardest hit, will not suffer any further cuts in this Parliament.”
Angela Maher, a constituent of Jack’s and ESA claimant, says:
“I want to work. I’ve worked all my life and do charity work whenever I can. I have a heart problem that prevents me from doing a permanent job.
“What this Government is doing is making me more worse. They think that just because I can pick up a pen or drive a car I can work. My own health is going down and down and I have two disabled children to look after. If I could work I would.
“The Government treat me like a number or a box to be ticked, they don’t understand. I am a caring person, I have always cared for other people but the Government do not care about me.”
Jagdeep Kaur Sehmbi, who has limb-girdle muscular dystrophy and is another constituent, says:
“From using more fuel to heat the home to being more reliant on cars and taxis to get around, the costs can stack up if you have muscular dystrophy. I’m so worried about these reforms – why make changes that will take money from individuals who can least afford it? It’s a horrible way to make savings.”
Robert Meadowcroft, Chief Executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, says:
“Living with muscular dystrophy is expensive. Research from Muscular Dystrophy UK found that two thirds of individuals experience significant financial difficulty and two fifths struggle or fail to pay bills as a direct result of the financial impact of their condition. That’s why the Government’s proposed cuts to Personal Independence Payments are so concerning: they would leave many people most likely to be amongst the poorest in the UK over £3,000 per year worse off.
“The Government has been unable to provide any satisfactory justification for this reform to PIP. It should listen to the clamour for a change of course – including opposition from its own MPs – and reverse its decision, not just now but for the lifetime of this Parliament.”