It’s what the media has been non-stop talking about – Iain Duncan Smith’s surprise resignation. 48 hours after George Osborne announced the budget, which aimed to save £4.4bn in disability benefits by 2020, Iain Duncan Smith startled the government with a shock resignation.
The changes to disability benefit will include a Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which will replace the Disability Living Allowance in 2017. This new system will allow the government to save £1.3bn, as the government will cut disability benefits by £30 each week. Duncan-Smith has described the move as a ‘compromise too far’, and has referred to the legislation as a type of ‘salami slice welfare’ as the government moves to target the most vulnerable in society- yet again.
IDS’s resignation has received mixed responses from the UK population, as some will remember his time as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions wasn’t exactly the most lenient to those with disabilities…
Let’s have a quick recap of his time as Secretary for the State for Work and Pensions:
- Remploy Factories- He closed down many Remploy factories that provided subsidised and sheltered employment to disabled people. The Remploy factories were then sold to private companies, with most of them remaining closed.
- Scrapping the Independent Living Fund- This fund was set up in 1988 to allow financial support for people with disabilities. Scrapped in July last year, as a result 18,000 severely disabled people have lost on average of £300 pounds a week. This money was often used to help pay for carers, so that people could retain their dignity by living in their own homes.
- Access to Work Scheme- IDS was instrumental in bringing forward a policy that will reduce payments to disabled people from a scheme designed to help them work. The scheme currently helps 35,540 people and will be capped.
- The Bedroom Tax- One of the most controversial policies that has been introduced through his tenure, the bedroom tax. The government cut benefits for people who are ‘under-occupying’ their homes. This disproportionately affects disabled people, as often they need extra space in the house in order to store lots of complex equipment. Last year statistics were released that show 2/3 of those affected are disabled.
Whilst some journalists may hark IDS resignation as a serious sign that the government has ‘gone too far’, they forget to mention the damage that IDS has already caused for disabled people. IDS has played an important part in bringing many of these policies into a reality, and although some convey that this is a noble gesture, it is not going to stop the government penalising those who are most in need.