It is not ok in one of the richest countries in the world that some people cannot afford the basics.
Universal credit, poor pay, changes to disability benefit and pensions, means that over 14,000 people in our region have had to access food banks.
The introduction of Universal Credit has coincided with an increased use of food banks and rent arrears. It was misconceived from the start. It disregards how many claimants live hand to mouth and the diverse needs each individual has. The five week wait for payments has also resulted in many families accessing food banks to feed themselves and their children.
Between 1st April 2019 and 30th September 2019, the Trussell Trust’s food bank network distributed 823,145 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis. The average wage weekly income of those accessing food banks after housing costs is just £50, according to the Trussell Trust, and in South West region, 132,510 emergency parcels were distributed.
Despite the known issues, the Conservative Government has continue to roll it out, and has even run an ad campaign, which was found to be mis-leading by the advertising standards agency.
Labour will scrap the inhumane Universal Credit, sparing 5740 people in Filton & Bradley Stoke, as well as the unfair Bedroom Tax which is also hitting 236 people in Filton & Bradley Stoke.
Since 2010 disabled people have borne the brunt of the cuts inflicted on them by the Conservative Government and the Coalition before them. The cuts have had a detrimental effect on the lives of disabled people, cutting living standards and undermining their access to education, social care and to justice. In 2016 the UN published a report and concluded that the Conservative Government had committed ‘grave, systematic violations of the rights of persons with disabilities.’
This is a damning indictment of the treatment of disabled people by the Conservatives, one which shames us as a country. I believe in a social model of disability, a society which removes the barriers restricting opportunities and choices for disabled people. As such we will build on the previous Labour government’s commitment to disabled people in 2009 as signatories to the UN CRPD. A Labour government will incorporate the UN CRPD into UK law.
For those who cannot work due to illness or disability, our Conservative MP Jack Lopresti has voted consistency against higher levels of support, even if you have cancer. This is callous and does not represent the challenges of living with a serious illness or disability.
Many with an illness or disability have gone through painful reassessment for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the benefit that replaced Disability Living Allowance. Often these assessments can result in the loss of funding, which then has to be challenged in court. Many assessors are not doctors, but healthcare practitioners who do not always have the range of knowledge about an individuals conditions. For those who can afford a court case, often these decisions are overturned. For those who can't, legal aid cuts mean that sometimes they may not get the correct assessment, and can end up living in extreme poverty.
The 2016 Welfare Act cuts are adding to the real suffering many disabled people are experiencing. And of course this doesn’t include the cuts in social care, or the NHS, or education or transport, all of which have directly affected disabled people.
Labour will scrap the Work Capability and Personal Independence Payment assessments and replace them with a personalised, holistic assessment process which provides each individual with a tailored plan, building on their strengths and addressing barriers, whether skills, health, care, transport, or housing related. We will repeal cuts in social security support to disabled people through a new Social Security Bill published in our first year of office. Finally, we will change the culture of the social security system, from one that demonises sick and disabled people to one that is supportive and enabling.
Around 3500 women in Filton & Bradley Stoke have been affected by the Tories' unfair changes to the State Pension age for women born in the 1950s. I campaigned against the additional pension changes in 2011, the Conservative government pushed it through. Like many women, I support equalisation with men, but do not agree with the unfair way the changes were implemented with little notice, faster than promised and no time to make alternative plans. I personally support these women against this injustice and have signed the WASPI women general election pledge:
More broadly, Labour is already committed to extending Pension Credit to help those worst hit by this callous change. We are also developing solutions for those affected who would not be entitled to Pension Credit. 15771 pensioners in Filton & Bradley Stoke would benefit from Labour's commitment to the Pension Triple Lock, which was under threat at the last election.
How did our Former Conservative MP vote?