Speaking on BBC Radio 4's World at One, ahead of the House of Lords Welfare Reform Bill (WRB) debate today, Parliamentary-Under Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Maria Miller sought to sound reassuring and reasonable. But the key points she made were either highly debatable or plain wrong. And the stakes are high. The government is attempting to move from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to an untried Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and to cut around £2.7 billion from the benefits system for the most vulnerable people.
Patrick Butler, Society Editor at the Guardian, has done a splendid job in providing rolling coverage of the report stage debates in the House of Lords on the Welfare Reform Bill. He is again coordinating a live blog today (17 January 2012).
Writing in The Guardian, Declan Gaffney, former policy advisor to the previous Mayor of London and to the previous government, has written in a personal capacity about what is at stake in the continuing struggle over disabled rights and the Welfare Reform Bill.
Yesterday I went to meet the "Amendment Lords" ahead of today's crucial votes in the second chamber, where the Welfare Reform Bill (WRB) debate moves from Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the income replacement benefit for people with work-limiting conditions, to Disability Living Allowance (DLA), which is intended to help with the extra costs people incur as a result of severe disability.
With the government still apparently willing to make sick, disabled and vulnerable people pay for a financial slump brought about by greed, de-regulation and speculation, the press-mediated propaganda assault has begun ahead of the next House of Lords debate on welfare reform (17 January).
This week the Welfare Reform Bill returns to the House of Lords, following three damaging defeats for the government last week. Disability Living Allowance, the subject of the #spartacusreport, will come into the spotlight. But so will assessment - not least the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which is being used in relation to Employment Support Allowance (ESA). It is the process by which people in receipt of the allowance are formally tested to see if they are "fit for work".
"One of the most fascinating things about the government's wobble on welfare this week has been the critical role of a new breed of disability campaigner in successfully marshalling public and political opposition to the reforms." writes Patrick Butler, Head of Society, Health and Education at the Guardian, today.