Yesterday the Disability Benefits Consortium took part in a ‘mass lobby’ of parliament. Over 100 disabled people came to Parliament to talk to MPs about the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.
At this lobby, I met with one of my constituents, Katy, who came to the event with the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) to speak to me about their work, as well as her personal experiences.
As I sat on the Committee that examined this Bill when it went through the House of Commons, it was really useful for me to hear first hand accounts of welfare reform. I used the opportunity to reassure Katy and others that the focus of changes to welfare were directly aimed at protecting the vulnerable.
Rather than look at each type of benefit individually, we have looked at welfare reform as a package of measures, not just to reduce the amount we spend on welfare in cash terms, but also to tackle the causes of worklessness, particularly long term worklessness. For those who can work, but either have found it difficult to get into work or find it difficult to work more hours, we are providing a package of measures to help them back into the workplace.
This allows us to shift the focus of the safety net that is welfare onto those most in need and those who cannot work. This government will always protect those people.
I want to thank Katy and everyone I met at the lobby, and for sharing their stories with me.