Today more than 100 people with disabilities met their local MPs in Parliament to talk to them about their concerns over the government’s proposed cuts to benefits, including the £30 reduction to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG).
People with a learning disability, represented by Mencap, were joined by campaigners from 12 other charities who are all part of the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC).
They came from all over the country to meet their MPs and talk to them about their concerns over cuts to benefits, and the negative impacts it would likely have on their quality of life and ability to live independently.
Here’s what today’s attendees had to say:
Krishan, Luton: I use benefits to buy food and to help find work
I use benefits to buy food and to help find work. If I had my benefits cut, I don’t know what I would do or where I would get support in the future. I volunteer at a local food bank three days a week, and also take part in a music project and play football each week. I keep active and I dream about finding a paid job in the future. I used to get support from a centre for people with autism, but that’s been cut too. I’m seeing my MP today to tell him that I use my benefits for food and to find work. Please don’t cut them.
Tessa Bolt, Hexham: benefits help me attend interviews
I’m going to talk to my MP about my personal situation, I’m concerned about the impact that a cut to benefits will have for me. At the moment I’m really active, I volunteer locally at a school and I'm also involved in a film company. I want to be able to continue to do the things that help me. I know other people who will be affected by the government’s plans too. I’ve been supported by Mencap since 1999, they’ve been brilliant. Benefits help me attend job interviews, I’d get less support if they were cut.
James Jacobs, Nottingham: our voice isn't always the loudest, but it still matters
I personally think I’ve been very lucky in life as I haven’t had the problems receiving ESA that many people with disabilities have faced or are now facing. That’s why I’m here today, because I want my MP to know that I have had support and I want others in similar situations to mine to receive that too. At the moment I work part-time at a social enterprise called Space Inclusive, and I hope to work there on a permanent basis in the future. My message to MPs is don’t ignore the concerns of your constituents with disabilities just because they may not write to you. Their voice sometimes isn’t as loud but it does matter.
Rebecca Ryan, Chiswick: benefits allow me to live independently
I’m here today because it’s important that everyone with disabilities helps each other by telling MPs not to cut benefits. I’m worried about cuts to things like Employment & Support Allowance, it would mean I wasn’t able to go out as much or do things with my friends any more. Next year I want to move into my own place and live more independently, but if the cuts came it would be very difficult for me to live by myself. My message to my MP is do not let benefits be cut.
Rob Higgins, Bolton: worried about the effect that cuts to Housing Benefit will have
I volunteer for Mencap in Manchester and it’s great, it’s really built my confidence and made me more independent. I worry that I will be less independent if my benefits are cut. My biggest concern is about Housing Benefit cuts, I don’t know how much that might affect me in the future. How would I be able to pay my rent? I use my support to pay bills, to buy food and to find work – I use the money to travel to interviews. I’m here today to speak to my MP and tell him my concerns. A lot of people with disabilities are worried about the effect cuts to benefits will have on them, some worry they might even become homeless.