Press Release

“We’ve got some extra support in”: Ed Davey tells the Big Issue how he’s balancing campaigning and caring

The Liberal Democrat leader has spoken to the Big Issue about caring for his son and the “distress” inflicted on his family by PIP disability benefit assessments.

Image: Richard Townshend Photography

26 June – Sir Ed Davey has revealed more details about how he’s managing caring for his disabled son during the election period in a new interview with the Big Issue.

The Liberal Democrats have brought attention to their leader’s responsibilities as a carer for his disabled son John during the election campaign, including with an emotive party broadcast that takes viewers inside Sir Ed Davey’s home life. He’s has now spoken to the Big Issue about balancing caring with the busy campaigning schedule of the past few weeks.

“We were preparing for it. We were thinking how we’re going to cope, and we’ve got some extra support in, to be honest,” Davey tells the Big Issue. “We’ve got someone who’s living in at home, with my wife, who’s a helper with my son.

“Because in normal times, outside elections, I do quite a lot of caring alongside my wife, alongside some carers we have. We’ve just had to intensify the help, because we just couldn’t cope without it. We’re very lucky – lots of people can’t do that.”

Davey spoke about the experience of switching John from disability living allowance (DLA) to personal independence payments (PIP).

“The real thing for us was more the distress of having to say how disabled he was,” he recalls. “You essentially have to say all the things you can’t do. For a parent, having to set out in hard detail all the things John can’t do, and will never be able to do – quite hard I have to tell you.

“The thing that really irritates me, and it’s irritated me for many years now, you get people with conditions that are life-long, that are never going to change, that are only going to get progressively worse, and the DWP knows that but it doesn’t matter.

“The computer says, no, they’ve got to come in and be reassessed, all from scratch. It’s very unnerving for people, they get very anxious, worried and ill, made ill by the fear around their benefits situation.”

The Liberal Democrat leader also denied his party is now more left wing than Keir Starmer’s Labour Party, and said voters stung by the Lib Dems’ previous broken promises should know he has “fought the Conservatives all my life”.

“When I became leader I said we needed to wake up and smell the coffee, we needed to engage with people, listen to people, communities that we wanted to represent and understand their concerns rather than talking to ourselves.

“I’d like to think that our manifesto is focused on health and care, focused on cost of living and things like free school meals, with our focus on environmental issues that really worry people like sewage. I’d like to think that we’ve produced a set of priorities and campaigns that almost have come from talking to people.”

You can read more from Sir Ed Davey in this week’s Big Issue, available now from your local vendor, or online at bigissue.com.

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