Remember those rebellions in the Lords on welfare earlier this year? Well, the fight hasn’t disappeared entirely from the Upper Chamber. Secondary legislation filling in the detail of the Welfare Reform Act is the new battleground, and I understand another uprising could be on the cards over regulations affecting disabled people.
Baroness Thomas of Winchester, who regularly cropped up on the Naughty List last year when peers revolted on the welfare reform primary legislation, is calling on the Government to think again about its regulations for the mobility component of the Personal Independence Payment, the benefit replacing the Disability Living Allowance. A last minute change to the regulations means that only those who cannot walk, with the help of aids, more than 20 metres will be entitled to a Motability car. Thomas tells Coffee House that she is annoyed that this change was made without prior consultation:
‘The government have been very good at publishing the PIP criteria in draft and consulting – we saw the first two drafts – but they have changed one key criterion at the last minute. I thought we were going to see the third and final draft before the regulations proper were published, but this didn’t happen, and two weeks ago they published the regulations.’
She has tabled a motion calling on the government to consult further on the regulations before implementing them. The motion reads:
To move to resolve that this House calls on HMG to consult further before asking Parliament to agree the draft Social Security (Personal Independence Payment ) Regulations 2013, specifically on the number of points allocated to the Moving Around descriptor which will have the effect of denying thousands of disabled people enough points to qualify for a Motability car.
The Lib Dem peer is confident that she could win a vote on this, as she has had indications that Labour could well support her motion. It’s quite a technical issue, but as the government needs to get these regulations laid pretty sharpish, a defeat in the Lords will be inconvenient as well as embarrassing.
P.S. I’m told that Labour also plans to table some of its own motions in the Lords: these will be ‘motions of regret’ which open up the debate in the House.
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