Boris has slammed Coalition welfare reforms – from the left

The most prominent politician to oppose the government welfare reform is - amazingly - Boris Johnson, taking on benefit scrounger myths and arguing against over-testing


On Monday, Responsible Reform will be published, an analysis of Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms largely drawn from responses to the Government consulation on the policy, that the Coalition held back from the public gaze until disabled campaigners made Freedom of Information requests.

Most suprisingly, it includes the submission by London Mayor Boris Johnson (pdf), who seems to have put serious clear red water between himself and the Labour leadership – never mind the Coalition – on the issue.

He, for example, directly takes on the ‘benefit scrounger myth’ arguing that ministers should not impose penalties on those who have claimed incorrectly:

“The government proposes imposing penalties if disabled people do not inform the government in changes in their circumstances. However, the Department of Work and Pensions statistics give the overall fraud rate for Disability Living Allowance as being less than 0.5.

“For those with fluctuating conditions asking them to report every change to their condition would prove very stressful. Rather than penalties the government should issue very clear guidance about what constitutes change and in relation to which conditions.”

The mayor also worries that moving children from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independent Payment:

Could potentially condemn the parents of disabled children and young people, and the children themselves to a life of financial hardship rather than financial assistance.”

Johnson also argues that:

“The three-month benefit qualification period [for Disability Living Allowance] should be retained, rather than extending this to six months as proposed”

and is:

“concerned about the government suggestion to remove automatic entitlement [to Disability Living Allowance] for certain groups. Claims should be based on the needs and circumstances of the individual applying.”

The mayor refuses to support changing from a three-tier system of benefits to two, saying:

“as those on the lower rate care component may have  additional costs as a result of their impairment but may lose their access to this benefit as part of the proposed removal under the reforms.”

Johnson also objects to the new system of face-to-face assessments with healthcare proffessionals previously unknown to the claimant, writing:

“Face-to-face meetings with a healthcare professional could prove difficult and inappropriate for an individual who may have difficulty with social contacts such as those with autism, or for those with an intellectual or mental health disability.

“Other circumstances where difficulties may arise is if an efficient interpretation service is unavailable for deaf people.”

He even questions the motivation behind the reforms:

“While some reform may be necessary and some proposals are positive in terms of simplifying the benefit and reducing bureaucracy, the Mayor is concerned that if the focus of this reform is solely efficiency driven government, may fail to ensure that the needs of disabled people are adequately met and many will suffer additional hardship and isolation.”

We live in a world where a Labour leader, supposedly from the soft left, seems to think that beating up on benefits claimants offers the road to victory, and a Conservative mayor of London  is the biggest elected defender of the disabled. Strange times indeed.

Find the full submission below:

Mayoral Submission

See also:

• Labour’s untenable position on social security and disability – Declan Gaffney, January 3rd 2012

• Miliband quizzed on disability reforms, apologises for omission from speech – Shamik Das, September 30th 2011

• Miliband must stop spreading myths about benefit claimants – Tim Nichols, September 28th 2011

• How disability reforms were whitewashed from Labour’s conference – Daniel Elton, September 27th 2011

• Shameful incapacity benefit consensus between main parties must stop – Steve Griffiths, January 5th 2011

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72 Responses to “Boris has slammed Coalition welfare reforms – from the left”

  1. Cosmomontagu

    I wouldn’t say this is necessarily from ‘the left’, most of it is just common sense.

  2. Cosmomontagu

    I wouldn’t say this is necessarily from ‘the left’, most of it is just common sense.

  3. Cosmomontagu

    Although perhaps it should be noted that common sense and Boris are uncommon bed-fellows

  4. Anonymous

    However, the Department of Work and Pensions statistics give the overall fraud rate for Disability Living Allowance as being less than 0.5%

    Since Thatcher, the number on ICB/DLA has increased from 1 million to 2.5 million.

    However, the money pumped into the NHS has also increased dramatically.

    The contradiction is that either the money in the NHS has been wasted and people aren’t getting healthier, or there is fraud, or the level of what is disabled, has been dramatically changed.

    There is strong evidence that the health of people hasn’t changed.

    So if you say its not fraud by the individual, what is it?

    It’s fraud by the state. Politicians wanted to hide the unemployment figure, so they moved people from unemployment to ICB. Tories started it, Labour carried on.

    End result is ICB/DLA bill has rocketed, and there isn’t the tax money to pay for it. So its going back to what it should have been. Payments for people’s extra needs, and no payments for those that don’t need it.

    as those on the lower rate care component may have additional costs as a result of their impairment but may lose their access to this benefit as part of the proposed removal under the reforms

    This is wrong. People should get 100% of their additional costs, but that is it. So for someone with ‘stress’, there are no additional costs. For someone who needs round the clock care, there are large additional costs and these should be met in full.

    However, you’re arguing that the person with ‘stress’ or who is morbidly obese gets the same money. That’s wrong.

    However, its back to the basic problem. There isn’t the money from taxation. If you borrow it, it just means larger cuts in the future, and even more damage.

    That’s your legacy.

  5. Me

    Boris for mayor! Send Ed Miliband a message he can’t ignore.

Comments are closed.