Here is our submission to the Labour Policy Forum about benefits and employment, done jointly with the Global Women’s Strike. Anyone can make a submission, as an individual or organisation, as a Labour Party member or guest. The consultation ends tomorrow 30 June. https://www.policyforum.labour.org.uk/commissions
Labour policy review – Work, pensions and equality
Joint submission from WinVisible (women with visible & invisible disabilities) and Global Women’s Strike
- Maintain commitments in the 2017 Manifesto and disability manifesto, Nothing About You, Without You, to scrap the Work Capability and Personal Independence Payments assessments, and restore benefits. Elaine Morrall, Jodey Whiting are among many thousands who died, including under murderous work conditions for benefit.
- Scrap and replace Universal Credit (UC), which targets disabled people, especially disabled single mothers and disabled children. Women/children of colour disproportionately suffer low income and impact on their health.
- Private profiteers – Atos, Capita, Maximus, G4S — out of the benefit system.
- Increase Carers Allowance so it is a living wage not a partial wage replacement, and mainstream it beyond disability to mothers and other family carers. The 2017 Manifesto raises Carers Allowance to JSA level (a Social Security Scotland reality) – still insultingly low. The global centrality of caring work can only be established with a living wage, otherwise caring remains low status and those who do it, mainly women, continue to be impoverished. Financial recognition raises the status of disabled people’s right to support. It gives both disabled people and family carers a choice of who does the work and how.
- Yes to the disability manifesto pledge: “Labour will change the culture of the social security system, from one that demonises sick and disabled people to one that is supportive and enabling.” This should also apply to mothers and other carers. The back-to-work agenda has demonised single mothers as “workless”. Our joint lobbying in 2008-9 won exemption from work conditions for mothers of babies under one, but that is nowhere near enough.
- The Care Act entitles disabled mothers to additional support for their caring responsibilities for children but this not being implemented. Instead we face punitive investigations for ‘child neglect’, and our children are taken into care – deprived of their mother’s protection, isolated and traumatised. This sadistic discrimination must stop.
- Abolish the benefit cap which penalises sick and disabled women/mothers, those fleeing domestic violence, their children, and those who don’t qualify for the narrow exemptions.
- We strongly disagree with proposals for a Basic Income to facilitate caring on the cheap as a supposed answer to the social care crisis which would save the Treasury money (see Guy Standing report). As it is, a BI would replace low benefits, maintaining our poverty and exploitation, and extending it to men. Mothers and all carers, in the family and outside, need a living wage, not an extension of our exploitation.
- Reinstate benefits and the right to work for asylum seekers and other immigrant people. The hostile environment denies benefits to immigrant disabled women and children.
- Abolish care charges taken from our disability and pensioner benefits. Labour Hammersmith & Fulham is the only Council in England not to charge for homecare. Follow their example.
- Most who can take waged work, generally have, but need pay equity, good conditions, support and adaptations, including fewer work hours. Disabled women workers suffer a 22% pay gap compared with non-disabled male workers (TUC). The Equality and Human Rights Commission wrongly stated that the pay gap is larger for disabled men because they compared disabled women with non-disabled women (who are already discriminated against) not with men.
- Lower the retirement age and provide decent pensions. Sick and disabled women in their 60s worn out after a lifetime of work, waged and unwaged, are distressingly being found fit for work. Debating the cumulative impact of benefit cuts, Helen Goodman MP raised how people in Durham, especially women, needed sickness and disability benefits 10 years earlier than in non-industrial areas.
Labour’s 2017 disability manifesto KEY PLEDGES • Labour supports a social model of disability. People may have a condition or an impairment but are disabled by society. We need to remove the barriers in society that restrict opportunities and choices for disabled people. • Labour will build on the previous Labour Government’s commitment to disabled people in 2009 as signatories to the UN CRPD. A new Labour Government will incorporate the UN CRPD into UK law. • Labour will transform our social security system. Like the NHS, our social security system should be there for all of us in our time of need, providing security and dignity in retirement and the basics in life should we become sick or disabled, or fall on hard times. • We will repeal cuts in social security support to disabled people through a new Social Security Bill published in our first year of office. • Labour will scrap the Work Capability and Personal Independence Payment assessments and replace them with a personalised, holistic assessment process which provides each individual with a tailored plan, building on their strengths and addressing barriers, whether finance, skills, health, care, transport, or housing related. • Labour will change the culture of the social security system, from one that demonises sick and disabled people to one that is supportive and enabling. As a starting point we will scrap the Conservatives’ punitive sanctions regime and change how Job Centre Plus staff are performance managed.