Thursday 20 June 2024

What the Parties Offer the Disabled & Claimants

With all the party manfestos out, let's have a look at what the big four parties are offering the disabled claimants, shall we? I will leave the SNP out of this as their policies will be decided in Holyrood and not Westminster, and the Greenies and other Mickey Mouse outfits are not going to get a sniff at government, so it's Conservative, Labour, Liberal-Democrat and Reform that I want to look at.

The Conservative manifesto aims to reduce the benefits bill by £12 billion to fund tax cuts. £10 billion of those cuts are going to come from slashing PIP, which is the main benefit that the disabled rely on, along with Attendence Allowance for the pensioners. AA is not looked at, but the Tory aim with PIP is to replace it with a voucher system to pay for specific items, instead of money that is used to make people's lives easier. They also want to change the work capability assessment system from 2025 to make further savings.

Luckily, the Tories are not going to win the election, but if you are disabled and have half a mind to vote for that shower, that really is all you need.

Labour offers nothing concrete, which is good in a way, since it means that Sir Keir Starmer cannot renege on pledges that have not been made. The party has promised to "reduce child poverty" but neglects to tell us how they will do that, and there is no pledge to abolish the benefit cap or two-child benefit limit.

It all depends if you trust Labour not to screw you over too much. Are you feeling lucky, in other words?

The Liberal-Democrats are the most disabled and claimant friendly of all the parties. Their manifesto pledges to abolish the two-child limit, the benefit cap and the bedroom tax. They also want to reduce the waiting time for a claimant's first Universal Credit payment from five weeks to five days, and replace claimant sanctions with incentives.

They are not going to win, and many of those pledges refer to policies that were brought in during the period 2010-2015 when the Lib-Dems were acting as Tory stooges in a coalition, so there must be a fear that if the Tories do manage to poll better than expected, they might offer the Lib-Dems a few table scraps as they did in 2010.

Do you trust the Lib-Dems not to revert to being Tory stooges? That is the key question for any putative Lib-Dem voter.

Reform have provided us with the laughs of the campaign. Their manifesto tells us that "Personal Independence Payment and Work Capability Assessment should be face to face," which is exactly how they are conducted at present. Only continuing assessments are paper-based, and a very few, mainly terminal, claimants decided by paperwork. "We will require independent medical assessments to prove eligibility for payments," Reform goes on to say, but that is how they are carried out now by private companies such at Atos and Capita. Finally, we are told that those who are seriously disabled are to be exempt from regular checks, which is how the system works at present.

This part of the Reform manifesto looks as if it has been cobbled together in a saloon bar in one of the nastier towns such as Nuneaton where all the petty grievances are allowed to have full reign. 

Across the board, this is all either pernicious attacks on claimants or the thinnest of thin gruels, so vote as you see fit.

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