Neath MP Peter Hain has hit out at Tory Secretary of State Cheryl Gillan over the massive cuts planned to benefits of those with disabilities in Wales affecting thousands in his own constituency. Mr Hain also revealed the numbers of DLA claimants of working age and the level of cuts for each of the 40 Parliamentary constituencies in Wales.
Figures obtained by Labour revealed the numbers of DLA claimants of working age in Neath stands at 4,250 with the average amount claimed amounting to £69.79 per week. A 20% reduction would see the average amount would fall by £13.96 to just £55.83 per week leaving recipients on average £727.77 a year worse off. A total of £3,093,023 per year cut in DLA for Neath.
During a heated Welsh Questions exchange in the Commons chamber, Mr Hain challenged Ms Gillan to tell the House what loss of income her Government’s swinging DLA cuts of 20% might mean for the average claimant in Wales and how many would be effect.
When Ms Gillan failed to answer, Mr Hain told the House:
“Calculations backed by figures from the House of Commons Library suggest the average reduction would be £14 per week for 125,000 Disability Allowance claimants in Wales, a total cut of £90 million pounds per year, or over £700 each.
“Has she any idea how much suffering this will cause, with VAT, food, fuel and petrol prices sky high? The truth is that under this Government rich bankers are coining it whilst the most vulnerable and needy are punished. When will she stand up for people with disabilities in Wales?”
On the same day the Prime Minister said he would not be removing the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance from 80,000 care home residents, Chancellor George Osborne announced he was cutting nearly fifty per cent more than originally planned.
Shadow Secretary of State for Wales and Neath MP Peter Hain has called on Mr Cameron to “get a grip on his welfare reforms” claiming its creating an air of uncertainty for thousands of people. The mobility component is worth either £18.95 a week, the rate for people who can walk but need guidance or supervision to do so, or £49.85, which is paid to people who have difficulty walking.
Mr Hain said, “I am really worried this will cause real hardship to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
“This takes the Tory tradition of giving with one hand and taking with the other to a new level. David Cameron is giving with one hand and George Osborne is taking away with the other hand. At the end of the day its disabled people in residential care homes that are left to suffer as they face continued uncertainty over the mobility component of DLA.
“The mobility component of DLA makes a huge difference to the lives of disabled people allowing them to be independent and to lead an active life.”
During Prime Ministers Questions (Wednesday 23 March) Mr Cameron was asked why her was proposing to remove the mobility component of DLA from 80,000 care home residents, his response was “we are not”. But on the same day the Budget Red Book contradicted the Prime Minister confirming the Government are planning to remove the mobility component of DLA from claimants in residential care – with £475 million taken from people in residential care by 2015/16 and cut £150 million more from the mobility component of DLA than originally forecast in the Comprehensive Spending Review last year.
The issue has been further confused as current Welfare Reform Bill going through the House of Commons includes a clause to remove the mobility component of DLA for those living in a residential care home while the Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions has said the decision is currently under review.