The House of Lords has voted in favour of an amendment asking for a wide-ranging assessment to be carried out on the impact on disabled people of cutting the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) by £30 a week.
A report would then be laid before both houses followed by a vote, according to the amendment tabled by Lord Low of Dalston. This reflects concerns of disabled people and their families that the government has not fully understood how the cut would affect people’s ability to move towards work, their mental and physical health as well as their finances.
The Welfare Reform and Work Bill is now in its ‘ping-pong’ stage after the House of Lords voted against the Government’s proposal to cut ESA WRAG for sick and disabled people.
Rob Holland, parliamentary manager at learning disability charity Mencap, said: “So far the government has failed to offer any robust evidence as to why they should cut this key benefit for sick and disabled people who have been found currently 'unfit for work'. This amendment passed by the Lords offers a sensible option to the Government of carrying out a thorough and wide-ranging assessment of the £30 a week cut. It reflects the concerns from disabled people and their families that the Government has not understood the impact of the cut on disabled people's finances, their health and their ability to move towards work.
“The opposition across society to this cut is overwhelming. The government said they want to work with charities and disabled people to help improve the employment support it offers, however is ignoring the detailed and evidenced warnings of the entire sector when it comes to cutting ESA WRAG, and its equivalent in Universal Credit.
“Just 6% of the public think this cut would make the UK a better place for disabled people, whilst almost 7 in 10 disabled people say the cut will cause their health to suffer and almost half would return to work later. After such wide-ranging opposition to this we urge the Government to pause and carry out the impact assessment disabled people deserve.”