November 17, 2016
Action for M.E. has signed an open letter as part of the Disability Benefits Consortium arguing against a £30-a-week cut to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC).
The letter is to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and over 70 organisations are signatories.
The £30 cut is proposed for new claimants in the Work-Related Activity Group of ESA and within UC. The Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG) is for people who have been assessed as currently unfit to work, but as they are expected to be fit at a later date they are required to undertake activity aimed at improving their future employment prospects. Work-related activities include training or condition management programmes. Claimants in the WRAG are not required to apply for work or undertake work.
The signatories state that this reduction is unjustified as the government recently committed to protecting disabled people’s benefits from further cuts. The recent green paper does promise further support to help disabled people in the WRAG to move towards work, but there is no detail offered on where this would come from or how this might mitigate the effects of the cut.
A Disability Benefits Consortium survey found that 70% of sick and disabled people think 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.
The letter has been released to coincide with the backbench business debate on the cut, which is taking place in the House of Commons today.