The new Conservative disabilities minister voted against protecting the benefits of disabled children and cancer patients. He did vote in favour of the bedroom tax however.
Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon, who was promoted by David Cameron on Wednesday as part of the cabinet reshuffle, will have responsibility for child poverty and other other disability issues. He willll be tasked with helping Iain Duncan Smith cut £12billion from the welfare bill.
The Mirror reports: As a backbencher at the time of the debate in 2012 he voted on the side of the government, which is a common practice in Westminster – and almost universal among Tory and Lib Dem MPs.
But some disability campaigners reacted in horror to his voting record, which they say makes him the ‘minister against disabled people’.
The row comes hours after the new equality minister Caroline Dinenage was appointed despite voting against gay marriage.
And it comes days after the PM named his new justice secretary as Michael Gove – who said Britain should bring back hanging.
Mr Tomlinson voted with the government as a backbench MP in 2012 to defeat a string of amendments which would have softened the Welfare Reform Bill.
One of the most hotly-debated would have guaranteed at least two-thirds the higher rate of universal credit for disabled children.
The added protection was suggested by the House of Lords, which heard families with disabled children risked being £1,400 worse-off a year.
Labour shadow minister Anne McGuire told MPs the Tories’ plans were ‘unfair’ and would ‘hit some of the poorest people’ – singling out deaf children and those with Down’s syndrome and cerebral palsy.
But the amendment was defeated by the Tories and Lib Dems after work and pensions minister Maria Miller declared: “Increasing spending is not an option”.
The minister added: “We simply cannot maintain the existing rates for disabled children if we are to increase the rates for severely disabled adults.
“That would cost £200 million, which we simply cannot afford.”
Mr Tomlinson also opposed giving cancer patients more than a year to recover before they have to return to work.
The law brought in a year’s cap on disabled and sick people claiming contributory employment and support allowance (ESA).
The House of Lords wanted to double that limit to two years – and remove it for cancer patients until they were well enough.
The Tories and Lib Dems, including Mr Tomlinson, opposed both changes.
He also voted against letting people who have been disabled since childhood claim ESA as if they’d paid into the system.
And he voted for the bedroom tax and to cap benefits rises at 1%, a real-terms cut.
One blogger, who runs a site called UK Carers, wrote: “Tomlinson isn’t the man to fight for disabled people.
“He has shown himself to be a good little foot soldier for a Prime Minister who seems to be so jealous other disabled people are living that he has to make their lives even worse.
“David Cameron has made a very callous appointment in Tomlinson, one that should make all disabled people and carers ask ‘why did you give him this brief?'”