38 Degrees | Stop the cuts to ESA

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The House of Lords have pushed back on the government’s plans to cut ESA.

Now it’s up to MPs to hold fast to this decision, and vote the right way in parliament next week.

Can you email your MP telling them to do just that? You can use the template email provided, or write your own.

You don’t need to find contact details for your MP, that’s been done for you

Dear Ben Bradshaw MP

I live in your constituency and I am worried about benefit cuts for people with a disability. Please vote to protect the benefits disabled people need when the Welfare Reform and Work Bill returns to the House of Commons.

Figures recently released by Citizens Advice Exeter [formerly Exeter CAB] show that during the last quarter [ending 31 December 2015] there was a 22% in enquiries about Employment and Support Allowance [ESA].

One of the reasons is that ESA is a much harder benefit to claim than the previous benefit entitlement – Incapacity Benefit [IB]

This is primarily because the medical test – the work capability assessment – is very much harsher for ESA.

But it’s also because the assessment phase of ESA is supposed to last for 13 weeks, but for many claimants it lasts a lot longer.

I know that the House of Lords recently debated the Bill and voted by 283 to 198 to remove the cut to ESA from the Bill.

And that’s why I am emailing you now.

Hundreds of thousands of disabled people will lose out if these cuts become a reality.

I know these cuts will damage people’s health and chances of finding work.

I know 1 in 3 families with a disabled member already live in poverty.

And I know what people need is more help finding work, not less money to scrape by on.

Now that the Bill is returning to the Commons, I urge you as my MP to back Lords’ amendments 8 and 9 which scrap clauses 13 and 14 of the Bill.

A recent Review by three Peers – https://disabilitybenefitsconsortium.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/esa-review-december-2015.pdf – revealed the devastating impact the proposed cuts to ESA would have on disabled people; if you haven’t already, please read it before you vote on the Bill.

Please use your position as my MP to challenge these cuts and stand up for people with a disability. Please back Lords’ amendments 8 and 9 and scrap the cut to ESA.

Thank you,

2 thoughts on “38 Degrees | Stop the cuts to ESA

  1. Today I received this response from Ben Bradshaw MP:

    Dear Paul,

    Than you for contacting me recently regarding the Government’s proposed cuts to financial support for new claimants in the Work Related Activity Group [WRAG] of Employment and Support Group [ESA].

    I appreciate and share your concerns about the proposal, which would see the level of support for new claimants in the WRAG cut by around £30 a week from April 2017. I oppose this unfair and unjust measure, as it will hurt vulnerable people who through no fault of their own are suffering from serious illnesses, and are in and out of work intermittently.

    I also believe it risks creating a perverse incentive for people with health problems to be placed in the more expensive Support Group [SG] of ESA, thereby making it less likely they will receive help and support to return to work and potentially increase social security costs.

    I know that a number of charities and disability groups have expressed serious concern about the proposal. I understand that there are more than 100,000 people who are living with multiple sclerosis in the UK and I know that the MS Society has expressed concern that many of them could be affected by this proposed cut which could be detrimental to their wellbeing.

    Of course the costs of social security need to be fair on the working people who pay for it so it can be there for people who need it because they cannot work or earn enough to live. However, I believe the Conservative Government does not understand the reality of these changes, the impact it will have on sick and disabled people, or the perverse incentives it will create.

    I therefore voted against the Welfare Reform and Work Bill in its entirety at Report Stage and Third Reading, as well as supporting my Labour Frontbench colleagues’ amendments to remove this proposal from the Bill.

    The Conservative Government was defeated in the House of Lords over these plans and I will continue to oppose them when the Bill returns to the House of Commons on 23 February.

    Thank you once again for writing to me.

    With very best wishes,

    Ben Bradshaw MP

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  2. The letter that DPAC sent to all MPs about the #NoESACut debate

    Dear MP

    DPAC is writing to you to urge you to vote against a cut in ESA for claimants in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG). We will not go over again the reasons for the Lords to vote against it, but we wish to present further evidence which undermines the government rationale for doing this, and especially the 1% statistics presented.

    On the 27th of January 2016, the Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, made the following statement to justify this cut: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160127/halltext/160127h0001.htm

    ‘We must not forget that ESA WRAG was not a golden solution; it had been criticised by all parties for a long time. Only 1% of claimants a month were coming off that benefit into work’.

    This statement echoes Lord Freud’s statement during the 2nd sitting on the 9th of December 2015 although moving into work was not mentioned: ‘However, only around 1% of people in the work related activity group leave the benefit each month, so clearly the existing policy is not working as intended and is failing claimants’ http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201516/ldhansrd/text/151209-0002.htm

    Lord Freud in an addendum gives the explanation for the 1%: ‘Explanation of the 1% figure used in the policy note The 1% off flow figure is derived from caseloads and off flow statistics published through the DWP Tabulation Tool. The latest figures show that 17,000 of the 477,000 WRAG claimants (March 2015 to May 2015) left the benefit. This equates to 3.6% for the quarter and as such an average of 1.2% each month’. http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2015-1009/151203_Peers_Briefing_Addendum_-_Clauses_13_and_14.pdf

    Although the statement is true, it does not reflect the reality and a department employing a huge number of statisticians such as DWP would know that. What needs to be looked at is not the number of claimants leaving the WRAG per month, but the cumulative number of ESA claimants leaving the WRAG against the total number of claimants placed in the WRAG.

    Between October 2008 and March 2015, 573.200 New Claimants have been put in the WRAG and since 2011, 488.400 reassessed IB claimants have also been placed in the WRAG, which means a total of 1,061,600 claimants have been placed in the WRAG.

    This can be checked here https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/esa-outcomes-of-work-capability-assessments-claims-made-to-mar-2015-and-appeals-to-sept-2015 Table 1a for outcome of WCA for new claimants (573.200) and Table 10 for outcome of reassessments of IB claimants (488.400)

    As of May 2015, the WRAG caseload is 476,500 claimants, which means that 585,100 claimants moved out of the WRAG during this period. http://tabulation-tool.dwp.gov.uk/WorkProg/wp_cuml_jo/payment_group/clndsbmt/a_cnjo_r_payment_group_c_clndsbmt_sep15.html

    Obviously, the situation is more complex, as there is an interaction between the assessment phase and the WRAG, and some claimants in the WRAG would have been subsequently placed into the Support Group, while others would have appealed, but these figures are either not known, or they have not been submitted, and MPs and Lords have been asked to make an informed decision on the basis of incomplete, and in the case of the 1%, misleading figures.

    The Lords have found no evidence to support the assertion that benefit level was negatively associated with employment.

    We hope that you will take this into consideration.We also wanted to make it clear how the 1% figure has been misrepresented ahead of the vote on Tuesday deciding if disabled people in the WRAG should lose one third of their income

    PS: you will find as an attached printscreen of all the tables referred to in the main submission (this is shown below)

    And for more information about the statistics related to the WRAG, please contact Nick Dilworth http://ilegal.org.uk/thread/7140/dwps-esa-reassessment-programme-chaos?page=18

    https://www.facebook.com/nick.dilworth.3

    Yours Sincerely

    The DPAC Team

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