As George Osborne did the rounds of media interviews about the Budget this morning, I read about a 59 year old man, previously a ‘hardworking taxpayer’, unable to walk or talk properly after a stroke, who had been forced to sell his home because the Department for Work and Pensions had removed his Disability Living Allowance.
For a few weeks I’ve been trying to write a general critique of welfare reform, addressing each policy point by point, looking at the assumptions on which it was based, what it aimed to achieve, and the effect it has had in practise. It’s been a disturbing and depressing experience.
People often suspect that the purpose of recent welfare reforms was not to make the system more efficient or more fair, but to make the system so hostile, punitive and humiliating that people would be deterred from claiming. A decision by the DWP has just fuelled this suspicion.
Food blogger Jack Monroe is under fire for alleging on Twitter that David Cameron ‘uses stories about his dead son as misty-eyed rhetoric to legitimise selling our NHS to his friends’ She has received criticism from Conservative MPs and a torrent of abuse from some Twitter users.
When Lord Freud’s remarks about disabled people and the minimum wage became public, many people, myself included, reacted quickly and with anger. Did we over-react? Taking his words in context, was Lord Freud being "compassionate" as some of his defenders claimed, in wishing to find ways of getting severely disabled people into work?