Wednesday 15 September 2010

Disability cuts - one opposition MP's perspective

Last week I emailed my MP, Gerald Kaufman (Manchester Gorton, Labour) to ask him to do a couple of things regarding the spending cuts and how they will affect disabled people.

First, I asked him to write to Iain Duncan Smith to push for assurances that the Department for Work and Pension's Comprehensive Spending Review proposals would be subjected to a full and robust disability impact assessment.

I also asked him to sign Early Day Motion 706.

EDM 706 says:
That this House welcomes the Coalition Government's commitment to ensuring that the public spending cuts will be fair; is concerned that the Government has not adequately assessed the impact that spending cuts will have on disabled people and their families; notes that nearly a quarter of individuals in families with at least one disabled member live in relative income poverty; further notes that only 50 per cent. of disabled people are in paid employment; recognises that millions of disabled people rely on state financial support to help meet their social care needs and the extra living costs associated with their impairment; seeks assurances that the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review proposals will be subject to a robust disability impact assessment; and urges the Government to take steps to ensure that spending cuts will not further compound poverty and social exclusion experienced by disabled people.

I've now received a reply and I hope Kaufman won't object to me sharing his comments widely.

He has promised to write to Duncan-Smith and keep me informed of the response, when it comes.

However, he has expressed reluctance to sign EDM 706 because:
[it] begins by welcoming a commitment by this government, since I do not welcome their whole approach to disability or other issues affecting vulnerable people.
I am torn. On the one hand, I applaud my MP's stance which seems based on sound principles and yet... apart from that opening line, the rest of the EDM is a strong plea for fair play regarding the cuts.

I think this is one for debate. Should I write back and ask him to reconsider? Or should I accept his position and wait, instead, for him to pile pressure on Duncan-Smith? What would you do? 

Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. Oo, that is difficult. I think I'd write a nice reply saying that you respect his position on not wanting to 'welcome' the government's approach to disability or cuts, but that you'd politely ask him to reconsider because a large number of MPs signing the EDM would help with the campaign against the cuts. That said, I'm not convinced of how effective EDMs will be now, I remember writing to Conservative MPs when they were in opposition, and getting the response that they don't believe in EDMs, so if they didn't believe in them then, are they going to listen to an EDM now they are in power?

  2. I am surprised he objects, not because of his principles, but because the language of respect is so ingrained in the Houses. It is possible to welcome the commitment, which the Coalition have expressed, whilst questioning their actions.

    It may be that EDM's are not given much consideration by the Coalition, so maybe other avenues are important too - an open letter to various newspaper editors perhaps? Perhaps your MP can identify other avenues, or could support other groups within the House?

  3. I've written to IDS before (he is an MP in my borough, and I wrote on behalf of the Mobility Forum that I chair) and the first time he didn't reply. The second time he did, only to say that he doesn't sign EDMs as he doesn't think there is any point to them.

    So Isabel I agree with you; I doubt an EDM would sway IDS from any decision he might make. On the other hand, they would show a weight of concern, and make him aware of just how many MPs are watching what he does with interest.

  4. I think this is a classic case of wanting to choose a perfect option when only imperfect ones exist. It is better to sign this EDM than none; even if it does nothing, it can't hurt to try. There isn't another one that doesn't welcome the coalition.