Disabled Children Lose by Just 2 Votes as Lords Ratify Benefit Cuts

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Byline: DAFYDD WIGLEY

MODERATELY disabled children are currently assisted by disability payments which recognise the extra costs which their conditions generate. The UK Government is now hell-bent on clawing cash from these children, in their drive to cut public expenditure.

Last week, a bid to safeguard such payments was defeated by just 2 votes in the House of Lords. What a Christmas present for these children and their families. Scrooge rules, ok? This policy was justified by Welfare Minister Lord Freud. He recognised that the most severely disabled children and their families are not, at present, given adequate financial support. Well done! So far, so good!

I know, from family experience, that severely disabled children - who need continuous supervision, are doubly incontinent and who cannot feed themselves - need huge resources.

But faced with spending cuts, where would the Government find the cash for these desperate families - estimated at pounds 200m each year? Would they cut prestige projects? Axe nuclear trident? Or increase taxes? No fear! They will cut benefits for moderately disabled children, to fund those who are extremely disabled.

Talk about robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Last week a bid to amend the Welfare Reform Bill was moved by Tanni Grey-Thompson, one of Wales' outstanding disabled athletes. Baroness Grey-Thompson, despite being confined to a wheelchair , living 200 miles from Westminster and with a young family, is amongst the most active members of the House of Lords. Whenever important issues arise, she is there.

She estimated families would lose up to pounds 27 a week from the benefits they currently get to support moderately disabled children, such as those with Down's syndrome or those profoundly deaf. …