Blind people are ‘living in fear of welfare reforms’

Welfare reform threatens to steal their independence and dignity, David Miliband was told

The South Shields MP was at a summit in his constituency listening to the concerns of those who say the benefits cuts have left them at crisis point.

Mr Miliband has been lobbying Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith over changes that could see many blind or partially-sighted people who currently receive disability living allowance of up to £120 a week lose out when it is replaced by a new personal independence payment (PIP) from next April.

“There has been a dictatorial attitude that says it’s our way or the highway and I think that’s aroused a lot of anger in people,” he said at the meeting at Sight Service South Tyneside.

“The danger now is there’s a culture of rough justice and when there’s rough justice, people suffer.

“I think that people, especially vulnerable people, need to be treated with a lot of care. They are fearful of change that isn’t thought through.

“Blind and partially-sighted people have been treated very badly and in a way that doesn’t respect them. There has been an abuse not just in what has been brought in but the way they’ve gone about it.

“Consultation times that were not long enough, outreach that was not done properly and working around organisations like RNIB, not with them.”