Responding to reports of leaked documents proposing to eradicate the Work Related Activity Group in the 8th July Budget, Rob Holland, Parliamentary Co-Chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium, said:
‘Disabled people, their families and carers tell us they are extremely anxious about the Government’s proposal to cut £12 billion from the welfare budget. They are worried where these cuts will fall and how deep they will be.
Media reports today of a leaked paper proposing to abolish the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of Employment and Support Allowance are deeply concerning. The WRAG benefit is specifically there to provide support for those disabled people who are assessed as being able to move towards work.
It is also misleading in its description of ESA as ‘passive’. In fact people on this benefit have to undertake a range of agreed activity and are subject to a controversial regime of sanctions which if not fulfilled result in them losing part or potentially all of their benefit.
Abolishing this benefit would contradict the Government’s aim to halve the disability employment gap as set out in the Conservative manifesto. In addition cutting benefits to the bare minimum will prevent people seeking work effectively.
We are calling on the Government to ensure that next week’s budget protects disabled people, their families and carers from further cuts. In addition more must be done to tackle the long term economic disadvantages disabled people face and support more disabled people into employment.’
The next government should recognise the extra costs disabled people are forced to pay, and take steps to tackle this financial disadvantage in the longer term, including:
- Ensure appropriate support for disabled people to work, and security for those who cannot.
- Take a lead role in changing the way society talks about welfare.
- Ensure overall spending on financial support for disabled people is allocated on the basis of need, not pre-determined limits to avoid disabled people losing the support they need in years to come.
- Take action to ensure that a person’s disability does not mean that they are disproportionately affected by policy decisions.
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Notes to editors
About the Disability Benefits Consortium
The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is a national coalition of over 50 different charities and other organisations committed to working towards a fair benefits system.
Using our combined knowledge, experience and direct contact with disabled individuals and carers, we seek to ensure Government policy reflects and meets the needs of all disabled people.