Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been asked to clarify his policy on Employment and Support Allowance after he wins the leadership election later this summer.
(In fact I added the last part, but it is more or less certain that Mr Corbyn will retake the Labour leadership with an increased majority after the silly shenanigans of the last month or so.)
Mr Corbyn has been contacted by This Blog’s friend and fellow campaigner for people with disabilities, Samuel Miller – who raised particular concern over the cuts to ESA for people in the Work-Related Activity Group, passed by the Conservative Government some time ago.
This Writer considers Employment and Support Allowance to be beyond salvation – I think any Labour government should admit it was a terrible idea, based on bad evidence, and should be scrapped immediately as one of the party’s worst mistakes.
In particular, the Work Capability Assessment – which claimants must take in order to qualify for the benefit – worsens inherent medical conditions and actually causes others, making it likely that a significant proportion of those claiming the benefit may die. This is, of course, contrary to the spirit of social security benefits.
Here’s Mr Miller’s letter:
Britain’s sick and disabled are fearful of savage cuts to the welfare budget in the aftermath of the Brexit vote result. I have read your 10-point plan to transform Britain and would like to know if you intend to campaign to rescind the ESA WRAG cuts, or take legal action to possibly stop them? As you are no doubt aware, the UN have ruled that your government’s austerity policies are a breach of international human rights.
If next year’s ESA WRAG cuts are not rescinded, half a million sick and disabled claimants will struggle to sufficiently eat and heat their homes on that below subsistence benefit. As a contingency, I intend to ask the new Work and Pensions Secretary, Damian Green, to arrange with The Trussell Trust for ESA WRAG claimants to be granted sustained and unfettered access to food banks, commencing April 2017.
Although Labour is taking advice from lawyers on whether benefit cuts under Universal Credit are illegal, Owen Smith has refused to say whether Labour will also consider taking legal action to block these life-threatening cuts.
The DWP’s disregard for the future subsistence needs of ESA WRAG claimants is shocking. When sick and disabled people don’t have enough money to live on, let’s not pretend that by focusing solely on getting them into work but leaving them still choosing whether to heat or eat, we are actually tackling the disability employment gap.
In this recent Vox Political blog piece, I present one argument for rescinding the ESA WRAG cuts: Cuts to sickness benefit ‘must be reversed as the pound is due to plummet’ | Vox Political voxpoliticalonl..-due-to-plummet
Since January 2012, I have been reporting voluntarily to the UN’s human rights office, in Geneva, on the welfare crisis for Britain’s sick and disabled.
This Writer will await the response eagerly.
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