-A A +A
Select color visibility that suits you Basic theme Dark theme Darker theme Text only

Lobby against benefit cuts to ESA

14 January 2016

On 13 January disabled people from across the country lobbied their MPs to reverse planned changes to employment support allowance (ESA).

 Philip Connolly of DRUK at the Lobby with MPs Lisa Cameron and E White Ford.

These changes would remove the additional benefit component from future ESA claimants who are placed in the work related activity group from April 2017.

All those disabled people lobbying were supported by disability charities, including Disability Rights UK. The timing was crucial with the committee stage for the Welfare Reform and Work Bill having concluded on Tuesday January 12th but with their report unwritten at the time of the lobby.

That report, once written, will then be debated on the floor of the commons on the 25th and 27th of January where MPs will have the chance to vote against clause 14 of the bill, which refers to the Universal Credit limited capability for work element.

This lobby gave disabled people the chance to tell their MPs that the level of benefits isn’t a perverse incentive not to work. The real disincentive lies in the ineffectiveness of the employment support on offer.

At present non-disabled people on Job seekers allowance typically obtain a job in six months whereas disabled people on ESA are likely to spend two years in the work related activity group. The latest DWP statistical release regarding work programme outcomes shows that around 1 in 9 ESA participants achieved a job outcome. Small wonder that disabled people have no confidence in the Work Programme and are unwilling to trust their financial security to it.

The work related activity component is important because it recognises that people have more living costs over this longer period, including the very activities that can support progression towards or into work such as the use of telephones, broadband, travel to work experience or volunteering placements.

Benefits Lobby: what disabled people think of the Welfare Reform & Work Bill - link to video

The lobby was a success in terms of turnout. Around 130 disabled people lobbied at least 70 MPs.

Those who took part in the lobby were pleased at the opportunity afforded to present their views. The Twitter hashtag for the event was #BenefitsLobby which began to trend as soon as the lobby got under way at 12.30pm

Media reporting of the lobby

DR UK ambassador, Lord Low's, article in the Guardian

DR UK Ambassador Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson speaks out against cut to ESA in the Times

Over 100 disabled people meet MPs in ‘mass lobby’ – Enable magazine

#BenefitsLobby trending on Twitter