Analysis of the Department of Work and Pensions has revealed 46,000 sick and disabled people have had their Employment and support allowance (ESA) benefit cut by £30 a week in the last year alone. The group are in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG) of ESA whose claim is under a year old. 29,000, 63% of those affected, suffer from mental and behavioural disorders.
Nearly half a million will be affected when the cut takes full effect.
ESA is a benefit given to disabled and sick citizens both in and out of work.
Labour are calling for the Government to immediately reverse key social security payments to people with disabilities.
Labour’s Shadow Minister for Disabled People, Marsha de Cordova MP, said:
“The Tories’ relentless attacks on disabled people are appalling. This cruel cut is yet another example of the hostile environment the Government has created for disabled people. On the UN International Day of Disabled People, the Tories should do the right thing and reverse this pernicious cut.”
Parliament voted for the cut back in 2016 despite warnings that the cut would make it more difficult for disabled people to find work and that many struggled to afford food on the benefit at its current level. The cut was introduced in April 2017 but has yet to affect all recipients of ESA as is being phased in.
A survey found 28% of recipients were unable to afford food on the current allowance before the cut.
The government believe the cut will incentivize disabled citizens to find work but research by a coalition of 60 national charities suggested last year that the cuts to ESA would actually make it harder for disabled people to find a job.
Elliot Dunster, group head of policy, research and public affairs at disability charity Scope, said
“MPs have again failed to recognise the harmful impact that reducing Employment and Support Allowance will have on disabled people,”
The House of Lords originally blocked the plan to cut ESA stating that the government should conduct an impact assessment on the effects of the change. However, this was overruled by Tory MPs.
The Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, Sarah Newton MP (Tory) made no mention of the analysis’ finding in her piece for Politics Home today despite railing against disabled people’s exclusion from some activities in society.
The analysis is yet more evidence of the government’s lack of care for the most vulnerable people in our society and its lack of understanding of how austerity and cuts affect everyday lives. The DWP has come under heavy criticism for its assessments for disability benefits, with 71% of people having their assessment for Personal Independence Payment, or PIP, overturned via tribunal between January and March of this year.