Credit where it’s due, so just a brief post to say kudos to Tory peer, Baroness (Angela) Browning. I was very pleasantly surprised, on the podcast of a Lords’ question on Universal Credit, to hear her among the Labour and Crossbench peers challenging government spokesman Lord Freud about the impact of the new Universal Credit on disabled people, and particularly on the fact that claimants will only be able to apply for UC online.
Labour Peer Lord Touhig had pointed out Tanni Grey-Thompson’s research showing that 8 million people in the UK do not have access to a computer, and that disabled people make up 3.9 million of this group. Platitudes and blandishments followed from the government mouthpiece, and then Baroness Browning joined in:
“Will my noble friend confirm that people claiming disability benefits will be reassured that when the Government calculate the minimum amount they need to live on, the cost of maintaining a computer and purchasing internet access will now be part of that computation?”
Wonderful! Exactly the question I would have asked of a government that has an established track record of ploughing ahead with measures without either thinking or caring about the consequences for those affected – for example, pressing on with the DLA-PIP switch without apparently spending a penny on assessing the impact on disabled people, when even my own quick investigation showed that the switch will push hundreds of thousands of disabled people and their carers and dependents into poverty.
Of course, her noble friend would confirm no such thing, but clearly Baroness Browning is a lady with a heart and a brain. So what she’s doing still being a member of that party of flint-hearted baby-eaters is anyone’s guess..