POLITICS

Zac Goldsmith Ousted As Disability Charity Patron After Backing 'Brutal' Benefits Cuts

Tory MP backed the ESA cuts

17/03/2016 17:18 GMT | Updated 17/03/2016 17:23 GMT
Philip Toscano/PA Wire

 

Zac Goldsmith has been forced to resign as the patron of a disability charity after he voted in favour of a “brutal” cut to benefits.

The Tory London Mayoral candidate was asked to stand down as patron of Richmond AID after supporting the £30-a-week cut to benefits last week.

The charity revealed in a statement it had asked the Richmond Park and North Kingston MP to quit as patron, claiming it was “inappropriate” for him to stay on in the role.

The cuts to disability benefits will come in from April 2017, and up to half a million new claimants could be affected.

Richmond AID chief executive Lucy Byrne said: “We are shocked and disappointed to find that both our local MPs here in the borough of Richmond voted for this cut, one of whom is patron of our organisation.

“Having voted for this brutal cut we believe that Zac Goldsmith’s position as patron is no longer tenable.”

 

The other Richmond MP to back the cut was Tania Mathias – the Tory who defeated Lib Dem Vince Cable in last year’s general election.

The cuts are part of Work and Pension Secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s plan to shake up the welfare system.

 Under the proposals, unemployed people with disabilities judged fit enough for “work related activities” will lose £1,500 a year in benefits thanks to the cut to the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

The Government claim the measure will save £1.4billion over four years, but opponents argue the cuts will push disabled people “further from the workplace.”

Goldsmith is not the only MP to be forced to stand down as a patron of a charity after backing the cuts, with North West Hampshire MP Kit Malthouse resigning from his position in the Multiple Sclerosis Society last week.

The organisation’s members said his voting position “prevented him from being an effective patron”.

Yesterday, a petition calling on the Government to reverse the ESA cut surged passed 100,000 signatures – meaning MPs will now have to consider whether to debate the issue in Parliament.