There is perhaps no greater symbol of the fact that the Tories and Liberal Democrats have made the most vulnerable pay for a financial crisis caused by the mostly wealthy and powerful, than the changes they implemented to our welfare system since 2010.
Despite being both the least able to afford it and the most in need of support, a recent report found that disabled people have been hit 4 times harder than any other group by welfare cuts, losing £1,200 a year compared to the average of £300 a year.
As the Conservative Party has abandoned those in need of support, the reverberating effects on society are clear. Ideologically driven cuts have impacted upon the dignity of our pensioners and those who find themselves unable to work, driving up poverty and inequality. For the fifth largest economy in the world – this neglect is a political choice.
Instead of a safety net to support everyone and anyone who needs it and enhance the wellbeing of our whole community, our social security system has been used as a stick to beat people with. A punitive sanctions regime and a degrading system of assessments designed to reduce the number of claimants rather than help those in need, has resulted in a deliberately cruel system which causes stress, anxiety and hardship, instead of alleviating it.
What needs to change?
- End the punitive sanctions regime and reorient the system so that its aim is to help those in need, rather than reduce the number of claimants.
- End the assessments regime, which relies on the judgement of staff without the necessary medical training, and stop ignoring the diagnoses provided by professional doctors.
- End the reliance on private assessors and bring the process back in-house.
- Legislate for a new emergency payment to supplement Universal Credit, to prevent evictions due to rent arrears, late payments and benefit underpayments.
What will this mean for Colchester?
- Relieve this suffering of disabled people and other claimants in Colchester who need to be treated with dignity and respect, not callousness and suspicion.