Posts Tagged ‘Social Security Advisory Committee’

Private Eye on Osborne’s Cuts to ESA

October 16, 2015

Private Eye in their issue for the 24th July – 6th August published this article in their ‘HP Sauce’ column criticising George Osborne’s decision to make further cuts to benefits for the disabled.

From WRAG to RAGS

Chancellor George Osborne’s justification for yet more deep cuts in financial support for disabled people is that he is merely eliminating “perverse incentives” not to find work. If only that were true.

Until now, those who were found by strict health tests to be too sick or disabled to work but potentially capable in the future qualified for “work-related activity group” (WRAG) employment and support allowance (ESA). So someone requiring lengthy rehabilitation after an accident, for example, or with certain kinds of mental illness, would receive a payment which included an element to cover the extra disability-related living costs they would face, such as travel, care and health visits. It was subject to regular reassessment.

As Osborne well knows, most of those in WRAG are not working because they are simply too ill to do so – or they face fierce discrimination when trying to find work. But as part of the latest round of “austerity” measures, from 2017 new applicants will now receive the same weekly payment as fit unemployed people claiming jobseekers’ allowance. This means disabled people will lose nearly £30 a week, or £1,500 a year.

This is on top of other cuts, including the closure of the Independent Living Fund, further reductions in employment support and disability living allowances and personal independence payments, restrictions to Access to Work, and reductions to social care packages – not to mention the bedroom tax.

No wonder the government continues to ignore calls from its own watchdog, the Social Security Advisory Committee, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission for an “impact assessment” of austerity measures on disabled people. It would confirm that, far from a “fair and efficiently targeted” policy, benefit cuts have hit some of the most vulnerable hardest. After all, the government’s latest figures on low income show that working age families with a disabled member now have higher rates of poverty than pensioners.

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