Peers finally passed the Welfare Reform Bill on Wednesday following months of wrangling over some of the more draconian measures contained in the Bill. A peer’s amendment over the controversial ‘bedroom’ tax was withdrawn, meaning that Housing Benefit cuts for social tenants who have one or more spare rooms will go ahead. Despite widespread concerns about the reforms in the Lords, the Government has pushed on regardless.
The passage of the Bill paves the way for the new Universal Credit that will be introduced from 2013, which will replace many of the current benefits and will cap total household benefits at £26,000 per year. The Bill has been widely criticised by charities who have warned of the of increased homelessness, poverty and mental health problems among vulnerable people.
Prime Minister David Cameron said that the reforms will end the “something for nothing culture”. Language like this from politicians and the media has been blamed for an increase in hate crime and abuse directed towards disabled people and those on low incomes.
Anne McGuire, Labour’s shadow disabled people’s minister has criticised such language saying that the “daily feeding to the media of press releases and distortion of figures, and the calling into question whether people really are disabled, has changed the landscape for disabled people”. More
The Joint Committee on Human Rights has warned that the termination of the Independent Living Fund and altering Disability Living Allowance and Housing benefits could “interact in a particularly harmful way” on disabled people, while Demos has estimated that the combined loss to disabled people will total £9 billion over the next five years. Read Citizen's Advice Scotland's Welfare Reform Report here.