ESA disability benefit cuts forced through by Tories as Lords run out of blocking options

By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor

It was described by one peer as a “black day for disabled people” as the Lords was forced to accept cuts to ESA (Employment Support Allowance) given to sick and disabled people, the most vulnerable in society.

After a brave fight by the Lords they were forced to back down in their opposition to the Government’s brutal plans. The Lords had managed to defeat ministers twice over plans to cut £30 a week from ESA.

However, the measure has now been pulled through the upper chamber, now being called a “black day for disabled people.”

When MPs backed it for a third time, they attached “financial privilege” to the measure, which will save the Treasury £1.3billion; as a result, Peers were out of options.

Welfare Secretary Iain Duncan Smith wants to cut sick and disabled peoples’ ESA from £102.15 to £73.10 a week from April 2017 – equal to jobseeker’s allowance – if they are deemed fit for “work-related activity”.

Half a million people are in the work-related activity group. The cuts will only affect new claimants or those who interrupt their claims for more than 12 weeks.

Elliot Dunster, Group Head of Policy, Research and Public Affairs at disability charity Scope, said: “Reducing Employment and Support Allowance will have a harmful impact on disabled people.

“We’re deeply disappointed that the Government is pushing ahead with its plans despite opposition from the House of Lords and many MPs.

“Half a million disabled people will be affected by this proposal – losing around £30 a week – at a time when they are already struggling to make ends meet.

“Reducing disabled people’s incomes won’t incentivise them to find a job. It will just make life harder.

Steve Ford, Chief Executive at Parkinson’s UK, said: “This is a dark day for people with Parkinson’s who will be left reeling from today’s result. As the Lords have pointed out time and again there is absolutely no evidence to support these proposals or any analysis into the impact they will have on people with Parkinson’s and other long term conditions.”

Tory backbencher Heidi Allen had previously led a rebellion in the house, against the cut. The South Cambridgeshire MP wrote: “A compassionate Conservative can be both progressive and free, but safeguarding of society and showing care for others. I am encouraging us to be both. We ARE both.”

4 Responses

  1. D Lowe

    Sadly, the suicides will rack up and every week you’ll get a scripted message to the bereaved families:

    “A DWP spokesperson said our thoughts are with the family at this time”

    1. Christopher

      As someone who suffers physical and mental health problem’s I can guarantee it. When I heard about it I thought it affected everyone on E.S.A and I was going to lose £30 a week out of my money. I attempted suicide three week’s ago due to the amount of pain I’m in daily and because of my depression and anxiety. Then being told off of someone that I was going to lose this out of my money, I was already thinking rather than going through the stress of struggling more to live I may as well try again yo end it. All this government is doing is adding to the suffering of disabled people by doing this and it’s wrong in every way.

      1. Joe Mellor

        Thanks for your heartfelt response. If you are suffering that much; I hope you are seeking the appropriate medical and mental help, I really hope things improve for you.

      2. Deborah

        I hear you Christopher. I too am suffering like you. I’m in pain and feel life is a constant struggle. I too think of ending it all just to escape my suffering but somehow I find a glimmer of hope inside that keeps me going. So please let me encourage you that you are not alone and to stay with us. We must stand up and fight. I am awaiting a tribunal to be transferred to the ESA Support Group, it has been a huge effort to challenge the DWP so far but I will keep going. We all have to challenge the system to make it change for the better for disabled people like our selves.

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