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We join over 30 charities in opposing £30 weekly ESA cuts

23 January 2016
Mencap

We have joined more than 30 other national charities in opposing the Government’s planned cuts to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) ahead of a crucial vote in the House of Lords next week.

Charity chief executives have signed a letter addressed to Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, before a key debate in Parliament, in which we hope will see the Government's plans to cut ESA by £30 a week defeated.

More than 30 charity chief executives have joined Mencap in signing the letter include Macmillan Cancer Support, Parkinson’s UK, RNIB, the MS Society and Mind.

According to a Mencap conducted poll to 2,000 members of the general public:

  • 71% of people think cuts to welfare will make the UK a worse place for people with disabilities to live
  • Only 6% felt that the Welfare Reform & Work Bill would make the country a better place to live for people with disabilities

The Government wants to cut £30-a-week for new claimants in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of ESA. The WRAG is there to provide support for people who are assessed as being unfit for work but are able to undertake activities to help them move towards work. 

Currently, there are almost half a million sick and disabled people receiving this benefit.

The Government has however suggested that sick and disabled people who get this benefit are being discouraged from finding work because of the £30-a-week more they get compared to those on Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA).

However, the DBC strongly disputes this claim. A survey from October 2015 of more than 500 disabled people found this to be completely false:

  • Almost 7 in 10 (69%) say cuts to ESA will cause their health to suffer.
  • More than a quarter (28%) say they sometimes can’t afford to eat on the current amount they receive from ESA.
  • 40% have become more isolated and less able to see friends or family after their ESA was withdrawn or reduced.

More than 100 people with disabilities spoke to their MPs in Parliament earlier this month about their concerns over cuts to benefits. You can read their stories here.

Jan Tregelles, chief executive officer of Mencap, said:

Not only are disabled people telling us loud and clear that this cut to ESA will make their lives harder, with both their health and chances of returning to work being harmed, but we also see how the general public are deeply concerned by these cuts to disability benefits.

Ahead of this key vote in the House of Lords, we ask Peers to consider what disabled people have said about how this will affect them, and urge the government to rethink this damaging cut in support for disabled people.

Sam Jeffries, who met his local MP at the Benefits Lobby event on 13 January, said:

I am really worried about benefits cuts. Only 6% of people with a learning disability are currently in employment. This number scares me as I, like a lot of people with a learning disability, really want to get a job.

It is really hard to get work if you have a learning disability. Benefits are important to me because the money helps me to stay independent, if it was cut I’m worried that I’d become isolated.  

Do you have a learning disability or are you a family member or carer to someone who does? If so, you can:

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