POLITICS

'I Want My Disability Living Allowance Back!' Voter Cathy Rips Into Theresa May Over Tory Benefit Cuts

First electric moment of general election as PM confronted

15/05/2017 13:23 | Updated 15 May 2017

Theresa May has been subjected to a tongue-lashing by a voter complaining about Tory cuts to disability benefits.

Cathy, who has learning difficulties, confronted the Prime Minister on a walkabout in Abingdon market in Oxfordshire on Monday.

In one of the toughest encounters May has had to endure on the general election campaign trail so far, she was told to her face the hardship felt by those who have borne the brunt of the Conservative changes to benefits.

“The fat cats keep the money and us lot get nothing!” Cathy told the PM.

She went on to describe how she had lost her carer and how others with disabilities had suffered as the Disability Living Allowance is replaced by the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

“Do you know what I want? I want my Disability Living Allowance to come back,” Cathy told the PM. “Not have PIPs and get nothing.”

“I can’t live on £100 a month. They just took it all away from me.”

May tried to say that she was giving mental health more priority but Cathy interrupted to say: “I mean people in wheelchairs, and everybody, not just myself. For all of us!”

The confrontation, which was captured by 5 News and other broadcasters, came as May tried to pitch to Labour supporters with new policies to extend workers’ rights.

The PM has been accused of avoiding ‘real voters’ in the campaign so far, following a series of stage-managed events in workplaces featuring Tory supporters.

She has however in recent days ventured out to knock on voters’ doors and pledged to meet more of the public.

Today’s clash had echoes of when Tony Blair was confronted by Sharon Storer in the 2001 election campaign over her husband’s cancer treatment.

PA
Sharon Storer confronts Tony Blair in 2001

Cathy spotted the PM in her local market and proceeded to buttonhole her about the sharp end of the welfare cuts.

May was accompanied by health minister Nicola Blackwood, who is defending her Oxford West and Abingdon seat from a Liberal Democrat challenge.

“Theresa, are you going to help people with learning disabilities?

“I’m being serious I want you to do something for us.

“I haven’t got a carer at the moment and I’m angry. And I would like somebody to help me because I can’t do everything I want to do.

“I’m talking about everyone. I want them not to have their money taken away from them and being crippled.

“The fat cats keep the money and us lot get nothing!”

The PM tried to calm the situation by saying: “Cathy, we’re doing a number of things.  Let me tell you just one thing...”

But Cathy wasn’t being fobbed off and proceeded to say that her main priority was to get her Disability Living Allowance restored.

PA Wire/PA Images
Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green

The DLA benefit has been axed by the Tories and replaced by PIPs, prompting a wave of criticism from campaigners who say many have lost out.

One report recently suggested that nearly half of all Personal Independence Payments (PIP) claimants had their money cut or halted last year due to ongoing “planned reviews” which constantly reassess their entitlement.

All disability living allowance (DLA) claimants are being moved onto the new PIP system, which involves a series of initial assessments to confirm eligibility.

But even those who qualify for the new benefit have to face a regime of reviews that have left many fearing they will have their payments cut or halted.  

Ian Lavery, Labour’s National Elections Coordinator, said: “This is what happens when Theresa May meets real people.

“The Tories have failed to support disabled people and those with learning difficulties, while changes to Personal Independence Payments will deny 350,000 disabled people the support they need.

“Only a Labour Government will support those in need and build a Britain for the many, not the few.”

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