Everywhere we look see and hear the phrase “The Sick and Disabled”. It is as if somehow 'these people' are a separate commodity - other than us, says Karen McAndrew. A breed apart. Seeing ‘them’ like this is what allows politicians and journalists to discuss ‘their’ future in terms of statistics. Talking of ‘them’ in these terms makes it easier for people to dissociate and thereby give consent for actions which will have an adverse effect. The arguments over the deeply flawed Welfare Reform Bill are a clear example of this. The Spartacus campaign is a key part of the much-needed reversal.
The Welfare Reform Bill debate has now given way to open warfare, says Simon Barrow. These latest battles are as much about the soul (or lack of it) of the coalition project as they are about money or the demographics of power. The government can command majorities in both Houses. But it is losing the argument, losing good will and storing up massive costs - financial and political - for the future.
Why is the UK government so determined to slash benefits and public services for sick and disabled people and carers? Many people have pointed out the flaws in a harsh Welfare Reform Bill targeting those who are already badly-off.
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.