• Cuts to Employment Support Allowance

    Constituents have been contacting me recently regarding planned cuts to financial support for new claimants in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of Employment Support Allowance. I share those concern about this issue and am very disappointed that the level of support for new claimants in the WRAG is set to be reduced by around £30 a week from April 2017. This will see disabled people in the ESA WRAG group lose around £1,500 a year. During the passage of the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, I opposed this unfair measure, as I believe it will hurt vulnerable people who through no fault of their own are suffering from serious illnesses and are in and out of work intermittently. I also believe it risks creating a perverse incentive for people with health problems to be placed in the more expensive Support Group of ESA, thereby making is less likely they will receive help and support to return to work and potentially increase social security costs. While various discretionary funds may be available, there is no guarantee of support and I am therefore concerned that the cuts to ESA will increase the numbers of disabled people living in poverty, threatening their health and wellbeing. I believe, like the NHS, our social security system should be there for all of us in our time of need, based on principles of inclusion, support and security for all, assuring us of our dignity. Thank you once again for contacting me and for sharing your views. I can assure you I will continue to stand up for a welfare state that is there to support people when they need it most, and will press for a full reversal of the planned reductions to ESA.