Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and, Employment and Support Allowance
Although not specifically a church related matter I want to highlight the plight of 50,000 disabled people who have had their Mobility payments reduced by the Department of Work and Pensions. This means that those 50,000 people have lost their Mobility Vehicles; when I say lost I mean they have been taken off them.
The criteria for this change was a reduction from 50 meters to 20 meters in the ability to walk. So, if someone who was on the scheme previously was able to walk up to 50 meters they lost out. Now many able-bodied people may think that is fare, however there are many disabled parking spaces well over 50 meters from journeys end for a disabled person. For example, many supermarkets will reserve disabled parking spaces, yet I see many that are well away from the main doors. Some may say get a wheelchair, but this is just another cost the majority of disabled people cannot afford. [More below] So, what is the disabled person to do if their mobility payment is reduced? Well they can appeal; however, the vehicle is removed well before the process begins; as such many people become housebound, or totally reliant on others to do their shopping, and assisting them to get from A to B.
On top of this the caring UK Government has also reduced by £30.00 out of work disability benefits.[ii] This will leave them with £73.00 per week to live on, which is the same as job seekers allowance, although the Minister for Disabilities promised MP’s that other measures would be in-place to assist disabled people. Fare one might consider if the disabled person is out of work the same as anyone else. However, it is estimated that the average disabled person is £550. per month worse off than an able-bodied person.[iii] Yes £550. per month it is not a typo. Now you will see that income and need for additional costs of disability do not stack up against the £73.00 per week. So, debt and poverty of the vulnerable becomes a reality in the twenty-first century Great Britain. This is of course whilst the pay gap increases and those that created the recession do not have to worry about the next meal, or a roof over their heads.
This is a shocking state of affairs, and one that is getting worse by the day. The sense is this Government has little sympathy for disabled people; and would rather use the bullying tack to force people who cannot work to try and find work. It is a delusion. If you cannot work, you cannot work – I am living proof of this. So what can the church do? Pray, and continue praying for disabled people and a Government that does not care. Also raise this with your MP, the church militant!!