Monday, 24 September 2012

Equal Citizenship motion passes!

I'm in a great mood at the moment. Yesterday afternoon my Equal Citizenship motion was passed by Lib Dem conference (and overwhelmingly passed I might add - only one person voted against it), along with an amendment effectively blocking tory plans for an extra £10 billion of cuts to the welfare budget.

As a result, the motion is now party policy and I'm now determined to do some proper lobbying, along with the brilliant and amazing Kelly-Marie Blundell, to make sure that, unlike last time, our MPs and peers actually act on the motion.

The full text of the unamended motion can be found here and here are the key points which the amended policy motion demands:

  • An independent review of the impact of the government’s welfare reforms 
  • Action to make all ESA assessment centres accessible
  • Changes to assessment for disability benefits (primarily ESA and PIPs) to make them fairer and less intimidating to applicants 
  • More funding to advice services like the CAB during the transitional period for any further changes to the welfare system
  • A national public awareness campaign to tackle disability hate crime
  • More funding for schemes like the Access to Work Fund to help sick and disabled people seeking work
  • A review of means testing for income related disability benefits to look at changing the ridiculously low cut-off thresholds used at the moment
  • A block on Conservative calls for a further £10 billion of cuts to welfare and pension spending

I'm not naive enough to think that all of these will actually be done this parliament but I certainly think that there's no reason why some of them, such as making assessment centres accessible and tackling disability hate crime, can't be done immediately. And today I met with Scope and various Lib Dems in government so that Kelly-Marie and I could start to get the ball rolling on lobbying parliamentarians to deliver on the will of Lib Dem conference.

Also, one other thing from the debate on the policy itself, is that I reminded conference that we need to apologise, as a party, for the welfare reforms and for our failure not to do more than we did. Because, while things like preserving the mobility component for DLA for people in care homes, blocking a 10% cut in housing benefit for people on Job Seeker's Allowance and maintaining the Harrington Reports are all good things, they simply aren't enough to absolve us of responsibility for the suffering being faced by sick and disabled people right now.

I just hope that passing the motion can act as a starting point for finally making good the damage caused and for finally starting to make sick and disabled people equal, rather than second class, citizens.

And last, but definitely not least, a massive, massive thank you to everyone who supported the motion, helped write it and who helped get it to autumn conference. You're all heroes :)


  1. George, and the rest of you - you're a fantastic beacon of hope. Thank you for your work.

  2. Bravo. I wish there were more like you. We might not always see eye to eye on everything, but you are an utter star when it comes to the sick and disabled.n And there is nothing wrong with people agreeing to disagree.

    I wish you the best of luck in getting the MPs and senators/lords to act in accordance with the party's policy.

    It probably won't be easy, but for the sake of people's lives, it is work that must be done.

    Let's hope that Labour and the minority parties in the Westminster assemblies, vote with you.

  3. This pledge looks well thought through and I agree with much of it. It gives me a glimmer of hope which I admit I had not expected to see since the LD manifesto was written. Thank you to you, Kelly-Marie and the others who made this all happens.

    Did you get any response officially or from conference regarding the Deputy Prime Minister's office potentially ignoring this pledge? Is there anything anyone can do to say "Don't ignore this!"? It would be a huge shame if it was ignored - especially as the DPM's office has history of doing GOOD and comprehensive disability research in the past.

    How likely is it that this pledge having been voted through means that this will actually have significant impact on the whole welfare benefits fiasco? As I know Jenny Willets told you IDS and Grayling would be censured from spreading misinformation several months ago yet they're still at their conflating error and fraud figures and other nasty tricks against welfare benefits claimants. It feels like nothing changed despite you and Jenny wanting it to which was depressing.

    1. Well, I highly, highly doubt that that kind of message from the DPM's office was authorised by Nick Clegg himself. I reckon it was probably an aide exceeding their authority as some of them are apt to do.

      However, I hope to make a formal complaint about it and Kelly-Marie and I intend to make sure that we lobby MPs directly so that aides (some of whom aren't even Lib Dems) can't get in the way and act as a barrier.

    2. That's helpful to know how official you feel the DPM's office comment was and indeed have a plan to challenge it.

      Thanks. And hope the formal complaint and lobbying definitely work.

  4. You are a great human being, people like you restore my faith in humanity.

  5. I'm sure it will be a great relief to the people sleeping the streets, you pustulent vermin.

  6. >Changes to assessment for disability benefits (primarily ESA and PIPs) to make them fairer and less intimidating to applicants

    Fair would be a nice change - At this moment every disabled person facing this is petrified - As we all know how it is like playing spin the barrel with a gun with 1000 bullets and only one person will be saved:-(

    I pray that one day this will be fair - The lives lost because of this is terrible

  7. Thank you George for your efforts on behalf of the sick and disabled. This time, warn your party we must see action on this and immediately. It cannot wait. Lives are at stake.

    Be in no doubt that we WILL have justice for all those who have suffered and DIED under the WCA testing regime, and lost DLA to which they were legally entitled, while ALL parties knew it was happening - and did nothing.

    This survey from Rethink shows that a survey of GPs revealed that 6% of GPs have patients who have attempted or committed suicide as a result of undergoing, or fear of undergoing, the Work Capability Assessment.That is a lot of totally avoidable deaths and abject fear and misery inflicted with government knowledge and other parties knowledge that it was happening.

    In addition:

    84% of GPs say they have patients who have presented with mental health problems such as stress, anxiety or depression as a result of undergoing, or fear of undergoing, the Work Capability Assessment

    • 21% of GPs say they have patients who have had suicidal thoughts as a result of undergoing, or fear of undergoing, the Work Capability Assessment

    • 14% of GPs have patients who self-harmed as a result of undergoing, or fear of undergoing, the Work Capability Assessment

    Disability groups are already in contact with the United Nations Council for the Rights of Persons With Disabilities. A dossier of information has also been sent to the International Criminal Court in the Hague. To think that such measures have been made necessary in a country like Britain is an indictment of every Minister and MP who stood by and allowed this to happen in a supposedly civilised country. Those responsible and who do not speak out to stop this madness will be made to answer for it.

  8. Thanks & congrats George to you, Kelly-Marie & your team for a strong presentation, for drawing attention to the unacceptable influence of Unum Insurance with UK welfare and for mentioning my work - what a nice surprise....

    I'll be sending you more info soon, especially about Prof Sir Mansel Aylward, now quoted as claiming that the BPS model of disability to be “unsatisfactory” and believed it “no longer addresses the real needs of disabled people and the exclusion of disabled people from society”.

    You really couldn't make this up,and he was speaking just 5 minutes after his report to the IFDM conference where he was supporting the BPS model...


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