Last night, the House of Lords failed to support an amendment put down by Tanni Grey-Thompson, the most successful paralympian of all time, to protect the benefits of disabled children once Universal Credit is introduced.
You can read more here http://www.family-action.org.uk/section.aspx?id=14225 but effectively, under universal credit, all but the most profoundly disabled children will only get half as much support. Child Tax Credit additions for disabled children will fall from £52.21 per week to £25.95 per week - a loss of £1366 per year, or £20,000 over the course of a childhood.
You might wonder what possible argument a government who promised to "protect the most vulnerable" could possibly make for this change. I myself was fascinated to see how on earth they had justified throwing disabled children to the wolves.
Ready? OK, if they didn't betray disabled children, it would just have to be disabled adults. After all, disabled children have parents to look after them. What's more, if they didn't cut money used to buy wheelchairs and incontinence pads for disabled children, they wouldn't be able to afford to address the hideous failures of ESA (Employment and Support Allowance or sickness benefit) and ensure that all those who qualify for long term support, get it.
Could there be a more disgusting example of divide and conquer? Each man for himself. The image of a Victorian gent throwing a handful of pennies on the floor and leaving the cripples to fight it out amongst themselves comes to mind.
And remember, this is no longer theory.
I've been writing about these issues for 18 months now, sadly my blogs have often contained doom and gloom predictions of horrors to come. Well last night they started to come in a first blaze of in-glory. The Welfare Reform Bill is now at Report Stage in the Lords. These votes will almost certainly decide what becomes law and what doesn't. For disabled children, now it's too late.
Shame on us.
There is one more session before Xmas. Then 4 sessions after Xmas, then the final no-going-back vote to pass the bill. There is still time to lobby peers. There is still time to stop the time limiting of ESA. http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.com/2011/12/time-limiting-esa-template-letter-to.html There is still time to oppose PiP and abolishing Disability Allowance. http://onemonthbeforeheartbreak.blogspot.com/ There is still time to fight Clause 52 http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/08/conservative-compassion-disabled-sick and housing benefit changes that will leave thousands of sick and disabled people at risk of homelessness.
In a week where the government suggested all cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy ought to be assessed to see if they can work or not, I can only wonder where this will all lead. I can only hope history is no guide the future
If I can find any tiny silver lining, it is that we only lost by 2 votes. That is the closest vote I have seen so far.
2 votes. 2 Lords. 2 letters, 2 emails, 2 tweets.
There is still all to play for, but sadly disabled children just fought the last stage of their fight. And lost.