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

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

  1. Arecbalrin

    I’d prefer the term ‘rational’. To my mind, Boris Johnson’s views on DLA reforms are rational for either a fiscal or social conservative. The reforms are a false economy; DLA was there to catch those who were no longer in residential units and psychiatric hospitals; those with learning difficulties, serious mental illnesses or Autistic Spectrum Disorders. It costs more to have someone in care for a day than it does to pay them benefits for the week, maybe even the month. You only need to look at the estimates of how much unpaid carer’s save the government to get an idea of how important the little support they and disabled people do get actually is.

    The government is gambling on a blind idea without checking if it’s true first: they think a substantial number of of claimants do not need DLA so there will be no serious nationwide consequences to pulling the support out. If they are right, those who shouldn’t have been claiming simply arrange their lives to adapt. If they are wrong, those affected do not have that option: where there is service provision for their condition their ceased DLA rather than being saved by the government simply has the balance transferred to that service, except that it will nearly always cost more. For others where the service provision just physically doesn’t exist, there is only destitution, services that can’t help them and possible death.

    Mason Dixon, Autistic.

  2. Anonymous

    um, hello, people seem to be missing the point here and that is that

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

    Why should it come down to people who are ill and disabled having to make freedom of information requests to find out what is really being said in response to government consultations? and if it turns out they really have been keeping things from the public and from the politicians who are making decisions on reforms which will have a huge impact on people’s lives, what will be done about it?

  3. AlmosJustice

    #Boris slams Coalition welfare reforms The #poor relying on a #ToryMayor-What a sad state for the #left #occupyLSX

  4. James White

    RT @leftfootfwd Boris has slammed Coalition welfare reforms – from the left: writes @danielelton

  5. Tom Staniford

    RT @leftfootfwd: Boris has slammed Coalition welfare reforms – from the left RT til your fingers bleed!! #wrb

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