Monday, December 20, 2010

URGENT - e-mail MP with casting vote on housing benefit changes

URGENT - e-mail MP with casting vote on housing benefit changes

Disabled People Against Cuts are calling for urgent action today to prevent changes to Housing Benefit that will push disabled people further into poverty. The group, which organised last week's protest, is calling for us to e-mail MP Stephen Lloyd. He has the casting vote today on changes to housing benefits that could disproporiately affect disabled people. The government is trying to sneak these changes through with as little debate as possible.

Details and advice on what to say in your e-mail are at DPAC's page here - the address for his office is They suggest that we just write a short e-mail reminding Mr Lloyd that this could lead to more and more disabled people living in extreme poverty, having to be housed in temporary/unsuitable accommodation, or in care homes. It might be worth mentioning to him that we appreciate his vote against the tuition fee rise, and that we hope he'll show us the same bold support.

They'd also like us to e-mail Steve Webb, a Lib Dem DWP minister who has said that disabled people have too much money and therefore we do not need winter fuel allowance. This is not only an attack based on misinformation, but it also goes against the Lib Dem's pre-election policies. They promised us Winter Fuel Allowance. Given that they now can't keep that promise, they've U-turned with a cruel, damaging statement that chimes in nicely with the coalition's wider attack on disabled people. We can't stand for it. I'll be e-mailing Steve Webb today to tell him what I think -

The more of us that do this, the better. Protesting can happen from home, too.

1 comment:

celticchickadee said...

Dear Mr Lloyd

I am writing to you firstly to thank you for your principled stand on tuition fees and demonstrating your understanding of not only keeping a manifesto promise and personal pledge, but also the impact of the huge rise in fees on students from ordinary working families and even more so on those who live in poverty. I am sure students and their parents, and those whose work brings them directly into contact with young people are grateful for your support, not only in your own constituency, but across the country.

However I now want to ask you, in the strongest possible terms to use your casting vote to protect the welfare of disabled people who receive housing benefit.

Changes to housing benefit that would disproportionately and adversely affect disabled people are the last thing people need at this point. These changes could lead to more and more disabled people living in extreme poverty, having to be housed in temporary/unsuitable accommodation, or in care homes, all things which in the medium - long term would actually increase costs, not reduce them.
Many people rely on this help whether in work or out of work. I have some idea of the kind of discrimination and difficulties disabled people face because I myself have a long term health condition which means I am registered disabled. I also had previous health problems which led to me experiencing discrimination in the work place, and have recently worked on a project in the NHS to encourage and enable more people with a disability into work. I know from first hand experience that there is a massive amount still to do with employers, who even at the best of times, still discriminate against disabled people, or struggle with the costs to them of making the reasonable adjustments that enable people who want to work and are able to, to do so.

I say all this because of the unhelpful image that has developed in the media and, sadly, from some politicians of late, creating and reinforcing a misinformed stereotype of disabled people as ‘scrounger’ who do not want to work and so do not really need or 'deserve' proper welfare support from the state. Nothing could be further from the truth. In times like these, when even someone like me who only requires relatively minor adjustments because of a health condition, is struggling to find jobs to even apply for, how much more difficult is it for people who are more disabled than I? People rely on these benefits, not for some luxurious lifestyle, but to maintain basic human needs and dignity.

It is a complete myth that disabled people 'have too much money' as your colleague Steve Webb seems to think, in order to justify not awarding them the winter fuel allowance. That is a pretty appalling statement and shows a real ignorance of the facts. Not only that but it goes against a Liberal Democrat pre-election promise and is a cruel and damaging statement. I would encourage Mr Webb to contact you and talk directly to the disabled people of the UK, and to organisations such as the excellent East Sussex Disabled Association which as you no doubt know is based in Eastbourne, and the emerging grassroots movement ‘Broken of Britain’ which I hope you are aware and to find out for himself that far from having too much money, many disabled people still find it a struggle to meet their reasonable needs.

Meantime, can I please ask you to continue your bold and principled stand and protect the disabled people of the UK from these changes in housing benefit.

I look forward to receiving your response.

kind regards

give name and address