To the Commons

Today the Welfare Reform Bill heads back to the Commons with a bloodied nose after a succession of defeats in the House of Lords. I’d like to think our elected representatives conduct themselves with as much dignity as their ennobled colleagues but have doubts considering the attention to the party whip seems to be more appealing than pleas of social justice.

Houses of Parliament

Houses of Parliament

My disillusionment with Labour has increased through the process of this Bill through Parliament, not least their eagerness to jump on the idea of a benefits cap without thought of the realities that they create for families who face potential homelessness, people with disabilities who face castigation and poverty and the almost gleeful stigma of ‘being on benefits’ that they are happy to paint on millions who have no choice in the matter because there may be a handful who are caught in a trap of benefits.

Surely the way to combat a ‘trap’ of benefits is to create meaningful employment and fight discrimination and barriers in the workplace while providing a benefit – yes, exactly like DLA – that encourages and supports people with disabilities in employment. Yes, that’s in employment.

I know I’ve said it before, as have many others, but reducing DLA pay outs by 20% doesn’t reduce life-affecting disabilities by 20%. Paying private agencies to ‘assess’ (often very poorly) people for disabilities while there are qualified GPs and consultants involved in the day to day management of these disabilities makes no sense and makes one wonder at the tie-in between these private companies (like ATOS) and government lobbying.

We are asked to make ‘efficiency’ savings in the NHS at billions – why not ‘efficiency savings’ in DLA and ESA by dropping these assessment ‘centres’ and using medical information garnered by known professionals’

It makes no sense to  me. I wonder if the politicians who push out their mealy words about ‘scroungers’ from their comfortable London flats while the tax payer pays them to talk shop and remove themselves from the reality of day to day life, have any idea, really any idea, of what they are doing beyond the back-slapping tabloid headlines. They should adopt some of the dignity of the peers.

As for the ‘cap’ on benefit, I’ve spoken about that before. The inclusion of housing benefit within that ‘cap’ reeks of the politics of envy. It also reeks of basic politicking to solve a ‘problem’ that exists only in a minority of cases.

The problem Labour have is that according to the Guardian they risk alienating their ‘working class’ voters if they don’t favour a cap but they want a localised cap.

What I don’t understand is why all this pandering to the private landlords who have allowed the rent to escalate.

The government waiving around the £26,000 or £35,000 figure is disingenuous at best and damaging to the fabric of society at worst.

I’ve said it before and will again no doubt. It’s about ‘divide and rule’ that’s what they are playing and if we turn on those who need us now, we will be playing the game as they want us to.

Rather than those receiving £26,000 in benefits we should be turning on those at the top who receive the rental payments at these excessive levels, on those who receive their ‘bonuses’ without producing tangible results.

This Bill is not just. As a social worker, I see the people it will affect. I oppose it and feel it’s a part of my professional ethical base to oppose a government (and opposition) when I see them pandering to public opinion in the face of social justice.

If by any chance you haven’t yet signed ‘Pat’s Petition’ I urge you to.

This is about attacks on disabled people. This is about attacks on families and children (yes, I got to the ‘it’s about the children’ line). It’s about a government and society of ‘haves’ purposefully attacking the ‘have-nots’.

Divide and rule. We must join together. ‘Hard working taxpayers’ (although obviously people who receive benefits pay taxes), ‘alarm clock Britain’ must stand alongside those who need the support the government offers to ensure that they provide it and that people like Cameron, Clegg and yes, Miliband, don’t speak for me.

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