Yesterday saw MPs debate 10-years of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) that sick and disabled benefit claimants go through. Despite the mountain of evidence that WCA cause harm to claimants, excluding the minister responding, not one Tory MP thought it worthwhile attending the debate.
Conservative MPs rarely, if ever, take part in debates about welfare unless they’re there to defend their party’s policies. So it comes as no surprise that not one bothered to attend a debate on 10 years of Work Capability Assessments (WCA).
The debate held in Westminster Hall, was secured by Labour MP Laura Pidcock. It being Wednesday, nearly all MPs would have been in Westminster for Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs).
While there was an opposition day debate on Social Care in the main chamber of The House of Commons, it is clear that a lot of MPs from all parties failed to attend either debate after PMQs.
The debate on WCA although short, was filled with passionate speeches by MPs from opposition parties.
Pidcock herself, had asked people for submissions about their experience of the benefit assessment and had ending up with hundreds of responses. She highlighted the high profile case of Steven Smith from Merseyside who recently died.
Mr Smith, despite being 6 stone and clearly emaciated, was told he was Fit for Work (FfW). Sadly he passed away last week having been finally told he was unfit for work.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd MP recently refused to comment on Mr Smith’s case citing that he was “an operational issue.” Yes she really used that term.
MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth Debbie Abrahams, used her time to name some of those who had taken their life or died shortly after being found fit for work.
They included Jodey Whiting, whose mother is now running a high profile campaign for an independent inquiry in DWP practices and Lawrence Bond who died in the street following being found fit to work despite a previous heart attack.
The only Tory to attend was new Disability Minister Justin Tomlinson. He responded by downplaying everything raised and by saying that suicide is “too complex” to link the benefits alone. This despite some of those who took their lives, leaving notes stating just that.
As usual Tory MPs have shown that they don’t care about their sick, disabled and vulnerable constituents.
Is this really any surprise though? If the United Nations (UN) can’t be taken seriously by the Tories, I doubt anyone can.