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 :)