Tory MP Zac Goldsmith has been made to resign as a patron of a disability charity after voting to cut benefits for sick and disabled people by £30 ($43) a week. The Conservative London Mayoral candidate backed the welfare changes which will see employment support allowances (ESA) reduced by as much as £1,500 a year.
West London based charity Richmond AID, who describe themselves as a charity "of and for disabled people", called on Goldsmith to stand down as patron for the charity. It said his vote in favour of Iain Duncan Smith's proposals are in "direct conflict with the social model ethos we embody".
Those who are affected by the £30-a-week cuts are people who are judged to be disabled but fit enough for "work-related activity". Around half a million disabled people could now see their benefits cuts after the vote.
Richmond AID have now confirmed Goldsmith has stepped down as a patron for the charity. Lucy Byrne, chief executive of Richmond AID, said: "It must be recognised that being a disabled person means higher general living expenses, for example to keep warm, to travel to get to activities and to participate in the community and travel to medical appointments.
"For people who are close to getting back to the workplace add to that the cost of taxis to interviews, smart clothes for work and internet access. We believe this cut moves disabled people further away from the workplace and increases the social isolation of people who are already vulnerable and already experience barriers in getting employment.
"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."
Kit Malthouse, Conservative MP for north-west Hampshire, was also forced to resign from a patron of the Multiple Sclerosis Society after also voting in favour of the ESA cuts as it "prevented him from being an effective patron".
Elsewhere, a Tory disabled activist has quit his role and sabotaged a party website because of the cuts he said are "destroying lives". Graeme Ellis, a wheelchair user who runs Conservative Disability Group, wrote a statement on the website that the page is "temporarily closed owing to Disability Cuts".
Ellis said the move followed on from George Osborne's decision to personal independence payments (PIP) for people who need aids to help them dress and use the toilet, announced in the 2016 Budget, describing the move as the "last straw".