Thursday, 17 May 2012
Press release

Compassionate Conservatism is dead. Contemptuous Conservatism has taken its place - Speech by Liam Byrne MP to Demos

Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, today argued that 'Compassionate Conservatism' has given way to a ‘Contemptuous Conservatism’. In his second keynote speech to mark the 70th anniversary of the Beveridge Report he argued that Britain should renew, not abandon universalism, beginning with making rights a reality for disabled people. 

This must be the foundation for social security in a country where disability now affects 11 million adults and some 770,000 children.

With half of workless households home to someone with a disability, Byrne said the right of disabled people to work is the foundation stone and he slammed Government changes that mean:
  • A failing Work Programme now missing its target for disabled people by over 60%.
  • Nearly half of all Work Capability Assessments end in tribunals and nearly half of those decisions are overturned.
  • 1,500 fewer people using Access to Work funds last year

The speech came just a fortnight after Iain Duncan Smith accused Remploy workers of, “not doing any work at all. Just making cups of coffee.”

Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said:

On Contemptuous Conservatism:

“In a series of reforms that should have been approached with care and attention this Government have used all the finesse of a bull in a china shop. 

“Iain Duncan Smith is now demonising those he is failing most.

“Compassionate Conservatism is dead. Contemptuous Conservatism has taken its place.” 

On the Disability Living Allowance:

“We have to make sure that reform doesn’t make a bad situation worse.

“Many people receiving DLA use the money to fund the mobility – and care – they need to stay in work.

“If this vital support is knocked away, then disabled people will be simply forced to quit.”

Byrne argued that welfare changes now risk hitting disabled people on all sides, wrapping them in red tape with test after test:

“Crucially we have to end the business of wrapping disabled people and their families in red-tape. 

“There are assessments for NHS care. For social care. For ESA. For DLA. For back to work support. 

“So, together Anne McGuire and I, together with shadow Social Care Minister, Liz Kendall, will be taking evidence around the country from people with disabilities, from carers, from campaigners, from public service and business leaders.

“We have to ask how do local councils, the DWP and where needed the NHS, come together to offer one assessment of the health, social care, benefits and back to work support that disabled people might need?” 

On reform:

“Now at a time of austerity, anxiety and fear, the same ideals of 70 years ago should inspire us to be reformers once again, reformers together, and restorers of the principles of William Beveridge.”