House of Lords Rejects Government changes to Disability Benefits
Last night the House of Lords rejected proposals from the Government to cut benefits for disabled people contained within the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.
The Bill proposed to cut the amount paid to people claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) who are in the Work Related Activity Group, WRAG, reducing awards by £30 a week to the level paid to people on Job Seekers’ Allowance.
The Government had argued that the current system is not working, and that too few people are moving from WRAG to employment, only 90,000 did so between 2010 and 2015, because of what they see as a perverse financial incentive.
Peers disagreed, standing with a broad coalition of disability charities who had suggested that the change:
- Would tip many people into poverty, facing them with unacceptable hardship and impossible financial choices.
- Ignored the fact that people in the Work Related Activity Group have been assessed as not being fit for work. They therefore need support and an improvement in their condition, not financial incentives, if they are to move towards employment.
- Would actually push people further away from employment, with people at risk of conditions worsening because of their reduced income, and more people seeking to get into the ESA Support Group, where payments are higher, and there is no requirement to engage in work related activity.
seAp is delighted
that the Lords vote means that the Government will have to reconsider its proposal for those in the WRAG, and joins with other charities from the disability and health sectors in urging them to explore different ways of helping disabled people back to work.
From our extensive work on benefits assessment issues with disabled people we know:
- Just how high the hurdles are that disabled people have to jump to get ESA, whether to be placed in the WRAG or the Support Group (you can take the test on our new website, here, to get a feel for the questions asked).
- The stress and difficulties communicating that many people experience within the Work Capability Assessments that are the gateway to ESA, which reduce their chances of getting appropriate outcomes on their claim. Our benefits advocacy service is designed to give people the support within assessments that they need to get the outcome they are due.
- The difference that an appropriate outcome makes to the lives of disabled people.
About seAp’s Work on Benefits
seAp has launched two websites, aimed at people going through the assessment processes for ESA and PIP. These are designed to give people information about the benefits they are applying for, help them understand the questions they will be asked, help them prepare for the assessments, and assist them get an appropriate result.
Try the apps here