Outcome of parliamentary Welfare Reform (Sick and Disabled People) debate
The full motion (the "question put and agreed", in parliamentary language) in the WOW petition debate on a cumulative impact assessment welfare reform in the House of Commons on 27 February 2014 is set out in full below.
It is in effect a take-note motion, and cannot oblige the government to do more than that. The coalition decided not to oppose it for "we're listening" reasons, though it spoke against the key points. Few government MPs took part in the debate. No Conservatives and only three Liberal Democrats were among the 250 MPs who signed in support of such a debate taking place.
However, a publicly-triggered policy debate of this kind is a significant milestone in the struggle to define and win support for radically different welfare policies which, using the slogan from Common Weal, is about achieving "all of us first" rather than "me first" priorities. It also indicates that petitioning can be a powerful tool for calling power to account and promoting alternatives.
Question put and agreed to:
That this House calls on the Government to commission an independent cumulative assessment of the impact of changes in the welfare system on sick and disabled people, their families and carers, drawing upon the expertise of the Work and Pensions Select Committee; requests that this impact assessment examine care home admissions, access to day care centres, access to education for people with learning difficulties, provision of universal mental health treatments, closures of Remploy factories, the Government’s contract with Atos Healthcare, IT implementation of universal credit, human rights abuses against disabled people, excess deaths of welfare claimants and the disregard of medical evidence in decision-making by Atos, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Tribunals Service; urges the Secretary of State for Health and the Secretary of State for Education jointly to launch a consultation on improving support into work for sick and disabled people; and further calls on the Government to end with immediate effect the work capability assessment, as voted for by the British Medical Association, to discontinue forced work under the threat of sanctions for people on disability benefits and to bring forward legislative proposals to allow a free vote on repeal of the Welfare Reform Act 2012.
* Full Hansard report on the Welfare Reform (Sick and Disabled) debate: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140227/debt...
* The WOW Petition Campaign, backed by Ekklesia and others, can be found here: http://wowpetition.com
* More from Ekklesia (comment, analysis and news briefing) on the WOW initiative: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/WOWpetition
* The WOW Petition Campaign, backed by Ekklesia and many others, can be found here: http://wowpetition.com
* Centre for Welfare Reform: http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org
* A background paper on the lobby and parliamentary debate is available here (*.PDF document): http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/files/wow_debate.pdf
* Time to end ‘war on welfare’, says Christian think-tank: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/20225
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