Ahead of key debate on Welfare Reform and Work Bill [27 October 2015] the DBC calls on Government to stop £30-a-week cut to ESA for new claimants

    • Almost 7 in 10 (69%) disabled people surveyed say cuts to ESA will cause their health to suffer
    • Almost half (45%) of respondents say that the cut would probably mean they return to work later
  • A third (28%) surveyed say they can’t afford to eat on the current amount they receive from ESA
  • 40% of respondents have become more isolated and less able to see friends or family after their ESA was withdrawn or reduced.

In a recent survey of over 500 disabled people almost 7 in 10 (69%) said cuts to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) would cause their health to suffer, with almost half (45%) saying it would mean they would probably return to work later according to research released by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) including Mencap, MS Society, Parkinson’s UK, Leonard Cheshire Disability and RNIB.

The Government has proposed a cut of around £30 a week to new claimants in the ESA Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) – cutting these individuals’ payments by about a third, from April 2017. ESA WRAG is specifically there to provide support for those people who are assessed as being unfit for work but able to undertake training or other activities to move towards work, to enable them to return to work when and if they are well or more ready for the workplace.

Currently there are almost half a million sick and disabled people receiving this benefit. The extra money individuals receive is in recognition that they are likely to be unemployed for a longer period of time than those receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance.

The Government has suggested that people who get this benefit are being disincentivised from finding work because of the higher rate this group gets, and that cutting the benefit by £30 a week – to the same rate as Jobseeker’s Allowance – will encourage them to find work [1]. The Disability Benefits Consortium strongly disputes the Government’s claim.  The evidence shows that instead, the cut will make it less likely individuals will return to work.

Jan Tregelles, Chief Executive of Mencap which co-chairs the Disability Benefits Consortium, said:

“These findings confirm the vital role support from benefits like ESA plays in the lives of disabled people, and shows how taking this support away would leave people isolated from their communities, closer to poverty, further from work and unable to live fulfilling lives.

“Crucially the survey shows that by reducing this benefit by £30 a week disabled people will be pushed further away from employment, contradicting the Government’s desire to halve the disability employment gap and get more disabled people into work.”

“We urge the Government to immediately reassess the impact of benefits cuts on disabled people and their families. Benefits are being taken away, cut or frozen without any real consideration of their effects on the people they exist to support. Coupled with cuts to social care, these benefit reductions risk creating a crisis for disabled people in the UK, forcing them into the corners of society and closer to poverty.”

The group of charities – known collectively as the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) – surveyed over 500 people from August 3 to October 15 2015. The research reveals the damaging impact a proposed cut of £30 a week to ESA.

The key findings include:

When asked what the likely impact would be if their ESA were to be cut by £30 per week:

  • 45% say they would return to work later.
  • 69% think their health would get worse.
  • 69% would struggle to pay their bills.
  • 70% would struggle to maintain their independence

Indeed, over half (57%) of people surveyed said the amount of ESA they currently receive is not enough to live on. As a consequence

  • Almost a third (28%) couldn’t afford to eat.
  • Over a third (36%) have been trapped in their house as they couldn’t afford a taxi.
  • Over a third (38%) have been unable to heat their home (38%).
  • 52% have struggled to stay healthy.

Further to this, of those who had already had their ESA withdrawn or reduced under the existing rules:

  • 24% could no longer afford their weekly food shop.
  • 22% are in debt.
  • 40% have become more isolated and less able to see friends and family.

DBC Survey

The Disability Benefits Consortium surveyed over 500 people aged 18 plus between August 3rd and 15th October across the UK. The surveys were conducted across the country.

9 thoughts on “Almost 70% of disabled people say cuts to ESA will cause their health to suffer and half may return to work later

  1. its not just those on ESA or job seekers this affects. those who have a decent loving family, parents etc, increasingly are having to rely on handouts from them, putting them too more and more in a bad financial position.

  2. This is just another unfair shot at the disabled people of this country after disability living allowance was replaced by PIP! Cutting a lot of people off from their income because of a few cheats. Those on life time should have been left alone , they have often been living in a hell. Stop our country’s money going abroad and to immigrants that have never paid into our system! Most disabled have worked hard at one time in their lives , others have family’s parents who have done so also, one way over the years some relative will have paid and never collect from the system… My father. Was one never went to the doctors or had any treatment, paid his taxes worked every day he could and died young too young to collect his pension and enjoy a bit of life. He is not alone and now the retirement age has been altered he will not be alone many more will die , only knowing work no pleasures…………..of old age !,,,,,

  3. yes my mother too. at 2 years younger than my dad she had to wait till he reached 65 before she could get her pension. dad was 65 end of july 1977 . they collected their pension then but mum had already been diagnosed with terminal cancer by then. after secondaries were discovered whilst undergoing hip replacement. riddled with cancer she lasted till mid december that year. and was nursed at home by me and the rest of the family. for those few months. so she got very little back for her contributions.as we saved the NHS a fair bit once she was home by nursing her ourselves.

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