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Severely disabled households to be hit by Welfare reforms

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From April 2017, 1480 severely disabled Milton Keynes residents are to be hit by the implementation of Government Welfare changes which were voted for by Mark Lancaster MP and Iain Stewart MP.

The Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 removed the Work Related Activity Component in Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and the limited capability for work element of Universal Credit. Claimants in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) will continue to be expected to take part in work related activity and be subject to conditionality but will lose around £30 per week as the benefit is brought into alignment with Job Seekers' Allowance rates from 1st April this year.

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The two MPs for Milton Keynes who voted to take money from disabled people.

Losing this vital support is no laughing matter for the disabled people who need it to manage in their daily lives, but both Conservative MPs, despite being elected to represent the people of Milton Keynes, decided to vote to remove it.

Nationally there are 492,180 disabled people in the ESA WRAG. The largest group is those with ‘mental and behavioural disorders’ (248,040) which includes people with mental health support needs, people with learning difficulties and people who are neuro-diverse.

In Milton Keynes this suggests 740 people facing mental health and other severe challenges will be hit. This comes at a time when the Government says it wants to address mental health challenges.

The government said they think the cut will incentivise more disabled people in the WRAG to move into employment. There is no robust evidence for this assertion, while research has shown that the cut is more likely to move people in the WRAG further from employment.

Findings from a survey conducted last year by the Disability Benefits Consortium found that:

• Almost 7 in 10 (69%) of disabled people say cuts to ESA will lead to health problems.

• Almost half say they would return to work later

• A third say they couldn’t afford to eat on the current amount they receive from ESA

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Cllr Nigel Long, Cabinet member for Adult Social Care said, “These measures will push some of the most severely disabled people in Milton Keynes further in to poverty and hit their quality of life. The attack on disabled people will particularly hit those with mental health challenges. I have written to the two Conservative MPs who voted for these changes to rethink their support for them.


Text of Councillor Nigel Long's letter sent separately to each MP for Milton Keynes:

Mr Iain Stewart/Mark Lancaster MP

House of Commons

London

SW1A OAA

I am writing to you about the implementation on April 1st of the changes to the Employment Support Allowance. (ESA). This will hit 1480 of most severely disabled people in Milton Keynes.

As well as being the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care in Milton Keynes, I am the CEO of a pan disability charity in London.

On 1st March Disabled people, Disabled People’s Organisations and charities will come together to call on the Government to stop the cut to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) due to come in for new claimants on 1st April.

This is a cut of £30 per week for those in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) and equivalent payment under Universal Credit.

Currently there are 492,180 disabled people in the ESA WRAG. The largest group is those with “mental and behavioural disorders” (248,040) which includes people with mental health support needs, people with learning difficulties and people who are neuro-diverse. This is around 50% of the total. This would equate to 740 people in Milton Keynes with mental health and other major challenges.

The government said they think the cut will incentivise more disabled people in the WRAG to move into employment. There is no robust evidence for this assertion, while research has shown that the cut is more likely to move people in the WRAG further from employment.

Findings from a survey conducted last year by the Disability Benefits Consortium found that:

• Almost 7 in 10 (69%) of disabled people say cuts to ESA will cause their health to suffer

• Almost half say they would return to work later

• A third say they couldn’t afford to eat on the current amount they receive from ESA

I believe it is unacceptable to further cut benefits for Disabled people. Disabled people have already suffered disproportionately from austerity since 2010.

Indeed at the end of last year, a report was published by the United Nations that found reliable evidence of grave or systematic violations by the UK government of disabled people’s rights due to welfare reform. The UK is the first state in the world to be investigated and found guilty of this.

It would be morally good and the decent thing to support disabled people and charities in seeking to block the implementation of the ESA changes for severely disabled people on Milton Keynes.

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Cllr Nigel Long

Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care

Milton Keynes Council


 

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