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Comment: Leaked sickness benefit cuts document

03 July 2015

Disabled people: “Yes we understand incentives!”

A leaked Government document proposes abolishing the work-related activity group (WRAG) category which applies to people with disabilities or long term health conditions who claim Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit. If scrapped, their weekly payments would drop nearly £30 from £102.15, bringing it in line with Jobseeker's Allowance.

Philip Connolly, Policy and Development Manager, says:

“The leaked report, picked up by the BBC, suggests that the Government still feels that disabled people don’t want to work. This is not true, most want to work. The Government would be better advised to look at the disincentives in the back to work system than those they think lie in the benefit system.

Current back to work programmes are failing disabled people, these so called active labour market interventions allow disabled people no active choices over what their support looks like or who they obtain it from. No incentives there then.

Finally the rumoured change will simply lead to more people appealing their work capability assessment decision in order to be placed in the support group. So more perverse incentives then.

No if the Government wants to succeed with incentives then there are more worthwhile measures it could take.

  • It could incentivise employers by making them aware of the support to take on disabled employees by publicising the Access to Work scheme.
  • It could incentivise the claimants by reinstating the linkage rules on ESA so that they could try work but return to benefits if it didn’t prove possible with their health condition.
  • It could incentivise back to work providers to improve by making them compete with local providers of back to work services in local labour markets.

Yes there are lots of incentives that could make a difference but in the current back to work market the incentives are largely with the providers when it is the claimants and the employers who matter most.”

Read the BBC news item

Message for disabled claimants feeling that they may be affected by today’s story from the BBC regarding the possible abolition of the Work Related Activity Group for those in receipt of Employment Support Allowance

The proposals within the leaked document reported by the BBC today may or may not be finalised but we need your legitimate outcry if you are set to lose out on money should they be implemented.

The additional money over and above what people on Job Seekers Allowance receive pays for many of the additional costs faced by disabled people arising from their disability. It is also used by many to cover the costs connected with participating in society such as the costs connected with specialist training, job searching or sustaining the connections with other people.

Disability Rights UK wants to hear what you use your additional money for and what you would have to forgo if this money was withdrawn. Usually proposed benefit changes, such as this one, are phased in for existing claimants and apply immediately for new claimants. But we want to hear now of what such a cut would mean to you. Please email or telephone and please could you also provide us with consent for us to quote you in our media work. Please contact philip.connolly@disabilityrightsuk.org

We would also like to hear from other people who may be affected by any benefit cuts announced on budget day