‘Halving the gap? –A review into the Government’s proposed reductions to Employment and Support Allowance and its impact on halving the disability employment gap’

Published on 8th December, the Review was led by Lord Low of Dalston, Baroness Meacher and Baroness Grey-Thompson, who are Independent Crossbench Peers in the House of Lords.

The Review was supported by disability charities including: Leonard Cheshire Disability, Mind, MS Society, National Autistic Society, RNIB and Scope.

From April 2017, the Government has proposed reducing Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) by £30 a week for new claimants in the Work Related Activity Group (ESA-WRAG). This proposal is set out in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill currently being debated in the Lords.

Currently there there are 492,180 disabled people within the ESA WRAG. The largest group are those with ‘Mental and Behavioural Disorders’ (248,040) which include those with mental health, learning disabilities and Autism.

Disability charities supported the Review to show how losing £30 a week would affect the day-to-day lives of disabled people and whether or not it will help them move closer to work.

In particular the Review looked at what the impact might be on the government’s aim to ‘halve the disability employment gap’, which was set out in the Conservative election manifesto.

What are the key findings in the report?

The Review found that:

  • There is no evidence to suggest that reducing ESA for new claimants would help them move closer to work.
  • In fact the reduction is likely to make it much harder, as people would find it difficult to be able to afford to take part in things like training, work experience, volunteering and other work related activity
  • Reducing ESA would lead to stress and anxiety as people struggled to pay the bills. This would affect people’s health and mental health.
  • The Review calls on the government not to push ahead with the reduction and instead focus on better support for disabled people to help them build up their skills and support to look for and stay in work.

You can download a PDF and a Word version of the Review here:

PDF version: ESA Review December 2015
Word version: ESA Review December 2015

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