Flash Says…

Time for George Osborne to put his money where his mouth is

Posted on: 2010-09-09

I am on holiday this week, but here’s a quick blog I posted on Where’s the Benefit.

The BBC report that Welfare spending is to be cut by [an extra] £4bn – apparently this is what George Osborne has told them.

The article makes for grim reading. For example: ‘The BBC understands discussions are continuing in Whitehall about whether it is possible to limit pensioner benefits – such as the winter fuel allowance, bus pass and free TV licence – without breaking Prime Minister David Cameron’s election promise that he would preserve them.

So they are trying to find out if there are ways they can weasel around and make cuts while still claiming they haven’t broken any election promises?

Mr Osborne said: “There are five million people living on permanent out-of-work benefits. That is a tragedy for them and fiscally unsustainable for us as a country – we can’t afford it any more.”

He’s right on one point; it’s a tragedy when anyone is permanently unable to work and has to rely on benefits. I know many disabled people who would love to work but simply cannot manage it because their impairment makes it impossible to manage, or who would need so many adaptions and allowances that any prospective employer would run a mile. Yes Mr Osborne, that is a tragedy for them to be in this situation. However, if the country cannot afford it, then cuts need to be made elsewhere to ensure that disabled people can continue to be supported – there is simply no alternative to benefits for some disabled people.

However, George Osborne goes on to say: ‘Of course, people who are disabled, people who are vulnerable, people who need protection will get our protection, and more.”

He needs to start spelling out how we will get his protection. All I can see on the horizon are cuts:
* Changes to the way ESA is assessed, so that fewer will qualify
* Changes to the way DLA is assessed, so that fewer will qualify
* Changes to housing benefit, which will particularly penalise disabled people, especially those who need an extra bedroom for a carer.

So come on Mr Osborne, how will we get your “protection, and more”?

It’s time he put his money where his mouth is.

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