Conference motion: The way sick and disabled people are treated by the benefit system

At 4.15pm on Saturday 17 September, Lib Dem autumn conference will debate the Liberal Youth sponsored motion on the Employment Support Allowance and the Work Capability Assessment. This motion deals with the way sick and disabled people are treated by the benefit system and the way in which they are assessed to determine whether they are eligible for benefits or not.

The motion specifically targets the time limiting of support to a maximum one year for any sick or disabled people who have made national insurance contributions in the three years prior to claiming, the appeal system which sees anywhere between 40% and 70% of appealed assessment decisions overturned and criticises the way the assessment system fails to consider the way in which many illnesses and disabilities vary over time.

Also potentially up for debate, is an amendment to the motion which will be sponsored by Guildford Liberal Democrats. This amendment is intended to complement the motion and adds lines objecting to the way in which people determined only partially eligible for support are expected to undertake the same “workfare” requirements as able bodied unemployed people and face financial sanctions otherwise.

As the original author of the motion, I recently wrote a piece describing the way the benefit system treats the sick and disabled; which I hope anyone planning to attend the debate will consider reading. There will no doubt be a lively debate on the issue but, more than anything else, I hope that the debate will be well attended. This is an important motion covering an area of the welfare system which has a huge impact on the lives of around 3 million people and it is, in my mind, vitally important that Liberal Democrats give this issue the attention it deserves.

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This entry was posted in Conference.


  • Thank you, Mr. Potter.

    It is such a refreshing change to see a LibDem who is willing to stick up for us. Unlike so many people here on this site who dismiss our feelings of terror and our worries as “nonsense”. It’s just such a shame so many others in your party seem to have had a compassion bypass since the Coalition was formed and see the sick and disabled as expendable.

    Again, thank you. Thank you so much.

  • I’d also like to add, if the moderators allow this, to point readers in the direction of this article. Especially the comments where many disabled people are pointing out the fear, anxiety and downright disgraceful treatment by the DWP & ATOS. We are not being hyperbolic, and we are not speaking nonsense. Please read the article and some of the comments to get a general feel of how sick & disabled people are being treated all in the name of “saving money”.

  • I sincerely hope that Liberal Democrat members give this motion the time and support that it deserves.

    There are millions of very frightened sick and disabled people out there who feel as though they have been abandoned and vilified by this government.
    They have been labelled as work shy and scroungers, and the media and government have together gone to extraordinary lengths to ostracize them from society, gaining public approval to make cuts to welfare to help reduce the deficit.

    These people did not ask to be sick or disabled, and i am sure all would happily give up benefits in return for good health.
    These people did not cause the deficit or the banking crisis, these are unfortunate people who where either born with a illness or disability or developed one in later life through accident or illness.

    We live in a country with 62 Million people in it, is it really that hard to believe that 4.13% of those people will be sick or disabled?
    At the end of June 2011, the Employment and Support Allowance and incapacity benefits (ESA/IB) early estimate was 2.565 million.

    Look at the odds of developing cancer, contracting MS, being born with a disability, developing mental health illnesses, number of people involved in accidents every year.

    These people did not want or ask for the cards that they have been dealt with in life, whatever their circumstances, surly in a civil society it is our duty to support these people and protect them from the kind of vilification we have noticed over recent months.

  • Barry George 6th Sep '11 - 11:58pm

    Good luck George and well said Matt…

  • @David G:
    There’s an incredible arrogance behind the assumption that LibDems will simply fall into line and not dare to oppose this.

    Only 4 LibDems voted against the NHS bill. Why on earth should we expect, based on their record so far this parliament, that LibDem MPs would suddenly oppose the welfare bill when they have been enthusiastically supporting it since the signing of the Coalition agreement? If they can’t be bothered to save the NHS from takeovers by foreign companies, why would they be bothered to protect the disabled?

  • David Cameron claimed DLA for his disabled son Ivan, he also claimed 4 free nappies a day from the NHS due to his son suffering from incontinence.

    I find it disgraceful that the Prime Minister has claimed this benefit, when he is a Multimillionaire, and now has the audacity to cut the benefit to other people suffering from disabilities.

    Cameron has trotted out the line, that the welfare bill has spiraled out of control and needs to be brought down, and yet here he was claiming it himself.

    Maybe if the Multimillionaires in this country where not so greedy and had their hands so deep in the pockets of the public purse, there would be enough money for the truly deserving and needy people of this country.

    I sincerely hope that someone at conference will have the courage to point out to others that Cameron claimed these benefits and it is an outrage that he now plans to cut them.

  • @matt:

    Good point about the rich claiming benefits. I’d also like to add that BTL owners have been using housing benefit as a cash-cow for years. Most now refuse to lower their rents in line with lower HB rates, even though both Tories and LDs told us landlords would be happy & jumping over themselves to lower their rents.

    The fact is, it isn’t the sick or disabled, or even the NHS, who is bankrupting the country. It is people like Cameron who claim DLA when he is worth an est. £30M. It is people like Osborne, again worth millions, who claim child benefit & vtax credits. It’s greedy landlords making a killing off of HB by the artificial housing bubble which is keeping rent rates unrealistically high. The bursting of the housing bubble, which will happen, cannot come soon enough. It’s about time the “haves” help pay for the crisis that the “have-nots” have already been paying for in spades.

    But, of course, it is the sick and disabled, as well as the unemployed/poor, who are being blamed by Tory and LD alike for this financial mess we are in when, in reality, it was caused by greedy bankers and stupid politicians, people who are not being punished in the slightest by this government.

  • Rachel Gladwin 14th Sep '11 - 12:47am

    Dear George Potter, many thanks for your words of support on my post on ESA.

    I fully support all the points you make and would be happy to offer additional comments which may, perhaps, offer other points for discussion during this debate. I know that the time limit is tight and you are probably restricted in this area; however you have a large group of people who are in the same predicament as myself and will be following this blog if their condition allows.

  • I’ll be there on Saturday afternoon to vote for the motion, and I am hoping to speak to it as well. I work as a volunteer for a well known “advice agency” and see the problems the situation is causing. I think the Glasgow amendment strengthens the motion, and depending on what is said (no closed mind!) will vote for that too.
    Well done for getting it on the agenda, and here’s hoping that not only does it get passed overwhelmingly, but those that need to take a lot of notice of it !

  • You did very well George and full credit to you for taking this stance on getting the polices for the sick and disable on the right track in going forward
    I do believe your the only person in the country to have done so to date and that’s a remarkable achievement the last time i witnessed someone like yourself was William Hague at the of 16 in 1977 with Mrs thatcher

    On going forward there are many who have died while waiting for their DWP appeal to heard and by the next election that number will have risen to many thousands and i do believe that the likes of you keeping a record of these deaths will and should be able to deliver a killer blow to the conservatives at the next election so i think nick clegg needs to bear that in mind and distance himself

    The DWP I’m sure do act unlawful at times and that’s partly because they can get away with it and earn their bonus such is the sickness of their minds the scum of the earth but we are where we are and it’s important that the sick and disabled get the right support while their alive as it’s not a lot of good when your dead

  • Well nick clegg’s speech is going down very well and a very solid performance at the liberal conference

    Having said that not one word about the sick and disabled which is a major blow as he addressed great things for everyone else in society but just left the sick and disabled out from any hope

    Truly tragic on what was an excellent speech

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