Don't cut benefits for people living with disabilities
“...for people who are already poor, it could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.” Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson, writing for for DRUK
The Welfare Reform Bill proposes to cut Employment Support Allowance by £30 a week for those in the “Work related activity group”. This a massive 30% cut in a benefit claimed by hundreds of thousands of people who are too unwell to work, including those with mental illness, cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
The government aims to incentivise people to get into work, but research by leading disability charities says this cut will actually make it harder in a the majority of cases. The Disability Benefits Consortium found that the cut would:
- make it harder to be able to afford to take part in things like training, work experience, volunteering and other work related activity
- lead to stress and anxiety as people struggled to pay the bills. This would affect people’s health and mental health.
They even found that a third of people say they can’t afford to eat on the current amount they receive from ESA and 40% have become more isolated and less able to see friends or family after their ESA was withdrawn or reduced.
The government’s attempts to improve access to work for disabled people are failing this community, with only 9% being helped into work since being placed on the Welfare to Work programme. In the new proposals, anybody returning to claim ESA after a period of employment, would only be able to do so at the reduced rate - reducing the incentive to leave the benefit system.
It’s clear this cut won’t act as an incentive, but will simply punish those who rely on ESA to get by day-today and to find and stay in work.
The numbers stack up to show that cutting ESA is a bad idea, but the real issue is the damage this will cause to ordinary people, suffering illness or with a disability, as they try to find and stay in work.
We urge the House of Lords to reject this proposal and send this bill back to the House of Commons