Cut on Disability Benefits May Push New Claimants to Poverty
MPs claim that the government's plan to cut disability benefits to new claimants could make it harder to find work, hence, push many into poverty. The ministers justify that the plan to cut £29 a week from employment and support allowance (ESA) payments is a way to remove contradictory incentives that discourage people from going back to work.
The cut to be implemented in April is estimated to affect 500,000 new claimants in the ESA work-related activity group (WRAG) over the next four years, as reported by the Guardian. While the disability benefits cut aims to generate estimated savings of £450m a year by 2021, MPs on the work and pension committee claimed that the ESA cut will greatly affect new claimants' quality of life and likelihood of moving into work. They also said it was not clear how the ministers' promise to provide extra support as to the living costs will be provided.
Several disability charities were quick to offer their thoughts on the cut to disability benefits. In a statement posted in Disability Rights UK website, CEO Liz Sayce said: "The select committee is right to highlight the forthcoming cuts to employment support allowance as wrong in principle and ineffective in practice. We're not aware of one single disability employment or benefits expert who thinks this particular cut will be an incentive for disabled people to get a job." Many CEOs of disability charities affirmed that the government did not present a robust evidence on how the cut will push the disabled into finding work rather it will push them into poverty and make their lives even harder.
Meanwhile, the MPs commend the government's efforts to get disabled people into employment by 2025 but warned that there were no quick solutions as surveys show that it would take at least 200 years to achieve such feat. They also welcomed the intention to reform fit-for-work test, known as the work capability assessment, as it had "for too long been a source of stress and anxiety for disabled people." But the MPs strongly implied the need to fix inappropriate sanctions, such as the forthcoming disability benefits cut, which caused hardships, affected claimants' health and eventually forcing them to not return to work.
The ESA cut, announced by former chancellor George Osborne in 2015, came into law last year and since then people have strongly expressed negatively about its consequences. The plan promises for more employment opportunities for the disabled but will render drastic changes in their lifestyle. It remains to be seen whether or not the cut to disability benefits will push new claimants into poverty.