The WOW Petition have become increasingly concerned with the rhetoric coming from Iain Duncan Smith and that concern has given way to no small amount of fear for the future of ill and disabled people. In light of the proposals attributed to Iain Duncan Smith in The Guardian today http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/nov/23/iain-duncan-smith-wrag-benefit-cuts we have written to Rachel Reeves, Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions, and Kate Green, Shadow Minister for Disabled People, to express our deep concerns. This is the content of that letter:
As you will be well aware, Social Security claimants have faced a torrent of changes since this Coalition took office in May 2010, and no group more so than ill and disabled people who have borne the brunt of this concerted attack on benefits. The limiting of contributory based Employment Support Allowance (ESA) to one year, the change from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payments (PIP), the Bedroom Tax, changes to Council Tax support, the benefits uprating being limited to 1% (which, contrary to government promises, does in fact affect disabled people) and more have had a cumulative effect on the lives of ill and disabled claimants.
We now read that Iain Duncan Smith is planning another “radical” change to ESA by disbanding the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) which covers over half a million people. These are clamaints who are currently deemed unable to work due to illness or disability but may be able to sometime in the future. The article does not make clear what Mr. Smith would intend to happen to these claimants, and we are hugely concerned that they would be expected to claim Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) whilst not being ready to reenter the workplace due to their illnesses.
This proposal would leave many vulnerable people “in limbo” as they are caught between out of work benefits and their illnesses and leave them without the support they so desperately need at that time. It would also mean that people who should be concentrating on their health will have the added stress and anxiety of dealing with a system that is stacked heavily against them.
We are also extremely worried that this is coming across more and more as a targeted attack on the most vulnerable in our society and that this government is going too far in its’ perceived persecution of ill and disabled people. Iain Duncan Smith, in particular, has become a figure of genuine and heartfelt concern and we are concerned as a community over the rhetoric being used by him and his department.
We would point you to searching “IDS” on Twitter and read some of the comments, especially after this article. Many of them are fuelled by fear of what Mr. Duncan Smith has shown himself to be capable of and we are frightened of what he will do next. Many people have questioned his motives and I would concur with their concerns. I would perhaps go further and question if he should be in such a position of power given his track record.
As you will know, the WOW Petition is calling for, amongst other things, a Cumulative Impact Assessment of all the cuts and changes affecting sick and disabled people, and we believe strongly that this is even more important given that Mr. Duncan Smith proposed further dangerous changes.
We believe that questions must be asked of Iain Duncan Smith.
We believe his proposal is dangerous and will cause misery and hardship for thousands of ill and disabled people, at a time when we are already struggling. We believe that questions need to be asked of the Department for Work and Pensions. We believe strongly that Iain Duncan Smith does not command any respect of those he should be representing, not persecuting, and we believe that Labour should call for his immediate resignation.
I truly hope that you can look to protect ill and disabled people and join the WOW Petition in our calls.