MPs face huge lobbying effort over damaging welfare reforms

By staff writers
30 Jan 2012

Charities, NGOs, poverty, disability and faith groups and individual constituents across Britain are lobbying MPs to vote for significant changes to the Welfare Reform Bill, which critics argue will plunge hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people into poverty in its present form

A range of leading charities, the beliefs and values think-tank Ekklesia and public figures have called for a legislative pause as a result of growing opposition to the current Bill. Better research and proposals are needed, they say, together with genuine involvement of people living with poverty and disability in tackling welfare issues.

The government's attempts to impose a top-slicing benefit cap, to abolish the emergency Social Fund, to dispose of Disability Living Allowance and to introduce untested provisions like PIPs has drawn detailed criticism from civic organisations, medical professionals, bishops, claimants themselves and thousands of others.

They support a universal credit and a simplification of procedures, but oppose many other damaging aspects of the bill.

The influential lobby group 38 Degrees has now taken up the cause of disabled people, and is enabling people swiftly and effectively to get in touch with their parliamentary representatives.

Church Action on Poverty (CAP) are facilitating people to back the amendments supported by Church of England bishops, including taking child benefit out of the benefit cap.

In Scotland, the Scottish Campaign on Welfare Reform, an umbrella body of more than 60 organisations including the Church of Scotland Church and Society Council, has called on MPs to ratify the six House of Lords amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill when it comes to the Commons on 1 February 2012.

The think-tank Ekklesia is also briefing MPs on the deeply flawed Work Capability Assessment, using research material supplied by disabled people themselves and drawing on their experience. Assessments procedure needs to be reconsidered and recast in relation to Personal Independence Payments too, disabled people say.

A petition sponsored on the e-government site by Mrs Pat Onions ("Stop and review the cuts to benefits and services which are falling disproportionately on disabled people, their carers and families") is also being widely promoted. It has rapidly shot to over 26,000 signatures and needs to reach 100,000 to be debated in parliament.

Spartacus report campaigners are also working tirelessly to reach MPs.

* Spartacus Report (#spartacusreport) - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/spartacusreport

* Pat's Petition (Stop and review the cuts to benefits and services which are falling disproportionately on disabled people, their carers and families): http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/20968

* 38 Degrees action in disability and welfare cuts - http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/speakout/cuts-to-support-email-mp

* Church Action on Poverty lobby of MPs: http://www.church-poverty.org.uk/its-time-to-close-the-gap/wrbaction/

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