THE Tories’ plans to slash unemployment benefit for disabled people making new claims could leave some unable to afford the essentials of life, MPs warned yesterday.
Under government plans, from April new ESA claimants assessed as fit for work will see their benefits cut by £29.05 to £73.10 per week, the same rate as jobseeker’s allowance (JSA).
The government claims the changes will help halve the “disability employment gap” — the difference between the employment rates of the disabled and non-disabled — and save the Treasury an estimated £1 billion by 2020-21.
However, the Commons work and pensions committee said the cut could leave some people with lower disposable incomes than JSA claimants as they often face unavoidably higher living costs due to their disability.
The evidence that reducing employment and support allowance (ESA) would provide an incentive for disabled people to find work was “ambiguous at best,” the report concluded.
The committee said its members had heard “substantial concerns about the possible impact of the new rate on disabled people’s capacity to look for and move into work.”
Committee chairman Frank Field said that if the government intended to proceed with the cuts “we expect an explanation of how this will not be detrimental to its target of halving the disability employment gap by making finding and keeping a job even more difficult for disabled people than it already is.”
The committee called on the government to respond to the report before the new lower rate of ESA is introduced in April.
Disabled People Against Cuts founder Linda Burnip told the Star that the Tories’ welfare changes were painting a “really grim picture” and having a “massive impact on disabled people overall.”
She said there was stark evidence that the latest round of cuts would “push people further and further into poverty” and would lead to claimants “not being able to meet their additional needs as disabled people.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “Our welfare reforms are increasing the support and incentives for people to move into work, while keeping an important safety net in place for those who need it.”
“Show me a disabled mother, and I’ll show you a disabled family.” Alf Morris
Forty years of Chronically Sick & Disabled Persons Act (HERE)
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