Lords rebellion fails to block reform of disability benefits

 

Disability campaigners were dismayed yesterday as the Government narrowly won a vote in the House of Lords against an attempted amendment to its reforms of the Disability Living Allowance.

Tanni Grey-Thompson, the Paralympic gold medal winner who is now a Baroness and sits in Parliament as an independent crossbencher, called for the Lords to back the proposed changes to the bill due to concerns it could harm the health and well-being of the country's most vulnerable people.

"There needs to be careful scrutiny of who will be affected by these changes," Baroness Grey-Thompson said during the debate.

"For me there's a real concern about whether it could lead to a deterioration of people's health." But her tabled amendment, which would have forced the replacement form of the benefits payment to be trialled first, was defeated by 229 votes to 213.

Earlier, a separate amendment tabled by the Baroness, in which she argued that reports from doctors should be a mandatory part of the Pip assessment process, was withdrawn without a vote after concessions were secured from the Government.

Welfare Reform minister Lord Freud promised tests of the changes in operational processes, allowing officials to see how they worked without actually affecting claimants' entitlements.

The number of new claims for Pip will also be limited to a "few thousand per month" for the first few months of implementation.

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