Ahead of next week’s Budget, leading disability organisations have joined forces in an 11th hour call for the Government to reconsider planned cuts to the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of the disability benefit Employment Support Allowance (ESA), which will see new claimants lose out on £30-a-week, £1500 a year
The Government claims this cut will ‘incentivise’ disabled people to get in to work, despite a recent Work and Pensions Select Committee report highlighting that evidence towards this is ‘ambiguous at best’. Charities argue that instead of halving the disability employment gap, the cuts will directly undermine this aim pushing disabled people closer to or into poverty, with a survey of over 500 disabled people finding:
- 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
- Almost half (45%) of respondents say that the cut would probably mean they would return to work later
- Just 1% said the cut would motivate them to get a job sooner
Rossanna Trudgian, Head of Campaigns at learning disability charity Mencap said:
The Government’s refusal to rethink the cuts to the benefits of disabled people has caused deep unease amongst disabled people as well as MPs from all parties. Introducing a cut of £30 a week to disabled people, many of whom are already living in poverty, without providing any robust evidence that this will incentivise people in to work. It will simply make life harder for sick and disabled people and directly contradicts the Government’s commitment to halve the disability employment gap.
Living with a disability often means a higher cost of living and being unemployed, leaving many relying heavily on the already restricted amount of money the Government provides. Disabled people are already struggling and risk being pushed further from work, their health suffering and being isolated from their communities. travel. We need the Government to recognise how damaging these cuts will be and stop them before their damaging effects are felt.
Dear Prime Minister,
We urge the Government to reconsider the £30-a-week cut to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit facing sick and disabled people. The cut has caused deep concern among the sector and unease among MPs from all parties and we remain united as a sector in our opposition.
The cut to new claimants in the Work-Related Activity Group of ESA and within Universal Credit (UC) from 1st April 2017 will affect many people found currently ‘unfit for work’ but will also impact many disabled people in work and on low wages due to the way UC works.
Almost 70% of sick and disabled people surveyed said this cut would cause their health to suffer and just under half said they would probably not be able to return to work as quickly, therefore undermining the Government’s attempts to halve the disability employment gap - something we wholeheartedly support.
At a time when 1 in 3 households with a disabled member are living in poverty, £30 a week can be a huge loss in income. We therefore urge the Government to halt this cut immediately.
Action on Hearing Loss
Arthritis Research UK
Baroness Campbell Chair Independent Living Strategy Group
British Lung Foundation
Disability Agenda Scotland
Disability Rights UK
Leonard Cheshire Disability
Motor Neurone Disease Association
National Autistic Society
Reclaiming Our Futures Alliance of grassroots Deaf and Disabled people’s organisations
Royal Mencap Society
Sir Bert Massie CBE, DL
For further information, please contact the Mencap press office on 020 7696 5414 or firstname.lastname@example.org or for out of hours 07770 656 659.
DBC Survey of disabled people
The Disability Benefits Consortium surveyed over 500 people aged 18 plus between August 3rd and 15th October across the UK. The surveys were conducted across the country and all relevant responses can be found below:
Q: The Government are proposing to cut support for people in the WRAG by around £30 per week. If this was to apply to you, what do you think the impact would be? Please note, this will only affect people who apply for ESA from April 2017 onwards.
It would make no difference at all
I would struggle to pay my bills
I would struggle to maintain my independence
I think my health would get worse
It would motivate me to get a job sooner
It would make it harder for me to recover and probably mean I return to work later
Other (please explain)
Not sure/don't know
Q: If you don't feel the money is enough, what impact has this had on your financial situation?
I have been unable to pay bills
I have missed rent payments
I have missed mortgage payments
I couldn’t afford to eat
I haven't been able to travel to medical appointments
I struggled to stay healthy
I’ve been trapped in my house as I haven’t been able to afford a taxi
I haven't been able to heat my home
Other (please explain)
Q: If you have had your ESA withdrawn or reduced, what has been the impact on your life? (please tick all that apply)
I can't afford to pay my bills
I can't afford my weekly food shop
I'm now in debt
I’ve had to borrow from my friends and family
I’ve had to borrow from a payday lender
I am more isolated and less able to see friends and family
I miss medical appointments because I cannot afford to travel to them
It has negatively impacted my relationship with my family/spouse/partner
It has caused me severe anxiety
It has made my health condition worse
It has had little impact
The amount I receive has not changed
Other (please explain)
There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.
For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email email@example.com
What is a learning disability?
A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life.
People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.
Learning disability is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’.