A TORY disability campaigner has handed in his party membership and sabotaged a Tory Party website in protest over brutal disability benefit cuts.
Graeme Ellis, a 66-year-old wheelchair user who has voted Tory since he was old enough to vote, quit and then closed the Conservative Disability Group (CDG) website, after Chancellor George Osborne confirmed devastating cuts to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Osborne will raise £4.4bn from his cruel cut to disability benefit, and use it to fund a tax cut for the rich. Cutting the benefit will net £15m in 2016/17, soaring to £590m in 2017/18 and £1.19bn in 2018/19.
Because the cut is aimed at new claimants, the figure will continue to soar, reaching £1.3bn in 2019/20 and £1.28bn in 2020/21, making an overall total of £4.375bn. The hit to 640,000 people on Personal Independence Payments (PIP) by 2020 will be even worse than Labour and charities predicted.
They had warned that more than 600,000 people with disabilities will be hit by plans to reduce eligibility for the Daily Living Component of PIP, with a Labour analysis showing that 400,000 could lose up to £1,400 a year in vital income.
Ellis yesterday accused Osborne of ‘robbing the vulnerable to pay the rich’ by simultaneously cutting disability benefits and raising the 40p income tax threshold. Ellis said: ‘The first thing I saw from George Osborne’s budget was his announcement on Personal Independent Payments (PIPs), then I saw that he was offering a tax cut to higher earners.
‘I thought: “He’s robbing the vulnerable to pay the rich”. There have been suicides over benefit cuts and it’s going to get worse.’ Ellis, who has diabetes, neuropathy and a visual impairment, added: ‘How can I morally represent clients when I remain in an organisation that’s doing these cuts? I no longer want to be a Conservative. I’m disabled first and that’s the corner I’ll continue fighting.’
A further 200,000 people with disabilities could find themselves being kicked off the benefit completely. It emerged on Wednesday that a Tory MP has been forced to resign as a multiple sclerosis charity patron after he voted in support of disability benefit cuts. Kit Malthouse announced he had left his position at the MS Society after its members said they wanted him to go.
The charity said his support for cutting Employment Support Allowance (ESA) by £30 a week ‘prevented him from being an effective patron’.