As well as sending my letter asking Where Disabled People fit in Labour’s ‘Tough on Welfare’? to Kate Green, I also submitted it as a comment in to Labour.org; I received a reply from the Labour Party today –
Thank you for your email about Labour’s plans for social security reform.
Because of this Government’s economic failure, the next Labour government must start planning now for what will be a very difficult inheritance. David Cameron claims the economy is fixed, but the welfare bill is going up, not down. Long-term unemployment is up; the housing crisis is pushing up housing benefit spending; and the growing number of people earning less than a living wage is costing the taxpayer more in tax credits and other benefits.
One Nation Labour will get welfare spending back under control, but based on our values, not the Tories’ failed approach. That means tackling the underlying problems in our economy that drive up welfare spending: unemployment, low pay and the housing crisis.
The Tories have allowed long-term unemployment to rise. But under a Labour government, nobody who is capable of work will be left to live a life on benefits; people who can work, should work. We will guarantee anyone out of work for two years or more (or 12 months for under 25s) an offer of a real job, which they must take up, or risk losing their benefits.
Labour will halt the race to the bottom in our workplaces, tackling low pay, insecurity and exploitation rather than leaving the taxpayer to pick up the bill. We will strengthen the minimum wage, encourage more employers to pay their workers a living wage, and ban exploitative zero hours contracts.
Under the Tories, Britain is building fewer new homes than at any point since the 1920s. As a result, rents are soaring, and for every pound spent on bricks and mortar, £19 is spent on housing benefit. Labour will turn this around. We’ll aim to build 200,000 new homes a year by 2020, and if necessary, we will use ‘use it or lose it’ powers to force land-hoarding developers to build the homes that communities need.
Labour will build a social security system that is fair for both those in and out of work. To restore the public’s faith in a system that sometimes appears to give something for nothing, we will look to better recognise contribution of people who have paid in to the system for years. And where the Government’s incompetent handling of welfare reform is costing a fortune, Labour will get a grip, reforming the Work Capability Assessment so it works properly and gives disabled people the support they need.
So it seems the Labour Party feel that reforming the WCA, which I totally agree is essential, is enough to reassure those of us too sick to work will receive the essential support we need. Whilst the ‘recognition of people who have paid into the system’ might refer to a change to the current time limit on claiming contribution based ESA; there is no mention of PIP, or any of the other benefit losses such as the Independent Living Fund.
Given this and the lack of reference to disabled people having value as human beings I await a reply from Kate Green herself with intrigue.