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Parliamentary Review calls for reverse of £30 week cut to ESA

08 December 2015

Halving The Gap? A review by Lord Low of Dalston CBE, Baroness Meacher and Baroness Grey-Thompson DBE

A parliamentary review published today calls for the reversal of the Government’s proposal to reduce the amount of money that new claimants in the employment and support allowance work related activity group (ESA WRAG) would receive from April 2017.

The proposal to reduce the payment for those in the ESA WRAG by almost £30 a week forms part of the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill.

The parliamentary review, carried by Lord Low of Dalston, Baroness Meacher and Baroness Grey-Thompson, received evidence and submissions from over 30 organisations (including Disability Rights UK).

Disability Rights UK welcomes the findings of this review. We are glad that it listened to the evidence we and other disabled people's organisations provided.

The review highlights that:

  • 57% of people with a disability said that the amount of ESA they are currently receiving was not enough to live on
  • Almost a third (28%) of disabled people said they couldn’t afford to eat
  • Over a third (38%) said they have been unable to heat their home. 

Among the review’s key findings are that:

  • cutting ESA would not help people with a learning disability move closer to work.
  • the cut would make it much harder, as people would find it difficult to be able to afford to take part in things like training, work experience and volunteering. These are important for helping people build up their work skills.
  • cutting benefits would lead to stress and anxiety as people struggled to pay the bills. This would affect people’s health and mental health.
  • the government should not push ahead with the cut and instead put in place better support for disabled people to help them build up their skills and support to look for and stay in work.

As a result, the review makes a number of recommendations, including that the government should:

  • reverse the removal of the work-related activity component and the equivalent payment under universal credit;
  • conduct a thorough impact assessment of the proposed change, taking into account the impact the measure would have on disabled people, their families, carers, the NHS and local authorities; and
  • provide more disability employment advisers to support claimants in the work-related activity group to move towards work.
  • ensure that the Work and Health Programme, announced in the 2015 spending review, is developed in collaboration with disabled people and disability organisations, in order to ensure that it is a tailored and personalised employment programme for people in the ESA WRAG.
  • review the current use of conditionality and sanctions for this cohort and attempt to reduce fear and anxiety within the benefits system.
  • fundamentally redesign the Work Capability Assessment, focusing on a holistic approach which understands the barriers to work people face and ensuring this information is used to provide appropriate support.
  • work more closely with employers to increase awareness of how to best support disabled people and people with complex needs, and undertake a Review of the incentives for employers to take on disable people and those with health conditions.
  • take action to ensure all employers are aware of their responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010, penalising those who do not adhere to it.

Download Halving the Gap

Download the easy read version of Halving the Gap

View our submission for the Parliamentary review on the proposed £30 week cut to ESA