‘Shocked’ disability group forces Goldsmith to end patronage
TORY London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith was dropped yesterday as patron of a disability charity in his Commons constituency after he voted for cruel benefit cuts.
Multimillionaire neo-aristocrat Mr Goldsmith was forced to resign in shame from Richmond Advice & Information on Disability (Aid) because of his support for reducing employment and support allowance (ESA) — for long-term sick and disabled people — by £30 a week to at most £79.
Mr Goldsmith has a reported £280 million to his name.
“Having voted for this brutal cut, we believe that Zac Goldsmith’s position as patron is no longer tenable,” said “shocked and disappointed” Richmond Aid chief executive Lucy Byrne.
Shortly after Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget on Wednesday life-long Tory voter Graeme Ellis — who uses a wheelchair — cut ties with the party over such “appalling” cuts to disability benefits.
The Conservative Disability Group website, of which Mr Ellis is webmaster, said that it was temporarily closed and that “owing to disability cuts … [he] will no longer develop or host this site.”
At least 20 Tory MPs have written to Mr Osborne urging him to reconsider cuts to personal independence payments (PIP) and to raise fuel taxes instead.
Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) co-founder Debbie Jolly said that Richmond Aid and Mr Ellis should be applauded for exposing the Tories’ double-dealing ways.
“MPs like to parade themselves as supporting disabled people in their public relations, but do the exact opposite in reality,” she said.
“They should all go from government. Disabled people’s support is being decimated, our dignity is being removed, independent living is a memory, while tax giveaways for the rich take precedence.
“Those that didn’t see this before are seeing it now — people like Graeme Ellis and millions of others.”
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith wants to bring ESA payments in line with jobseeker’s allowance, even though many ESA claimants cannot work and need funds for additional costs of disability or severe conditions.
Voting on the £30 reduction went ahead despite two rebellions by the Lords and charities warning that disabled people would struggle to even afford food.