Will Jeremy Corbyn fight cuts to Employment and Support Allowance?

Jeremy Corbyn wants nobody left behind. This Writer hopes that includes the sick and disabled [Image: Tracey Paddison/Rex/Shutterstock].
Jeremy Corbyn wants nobody left behind. This Writer hopes that includes the sick and disabled [Image: Tracey Paddison/Rex/Shutterstock].

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If next year’s ESA WRAG cuts are not rescinded, half a million sick and disabled claimants will struggle to sufficiently eat and heat their homes on that below subsistence benefit.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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12 Thoughts to “Will Jeremy Corbyn fight cuts to Employment and Support Allowance?”

  1. It’s likely Corbyn cannot state exactly what he will do since what he proposed in his promise to the British people will likely include a very radical approach to “benefits” and “welfare”. I’m perfectly content to allow him to generalise and trust him to do what is right, just as he always has.

    1. I echo your sensible comments Mohandeer.

    2. Pat Mcqueenie

      Well Said

  2. Wanda Lozinska

    I’m sure I heard him say he want to scrap the WCA as it’s not fit for purpose.

  3. has above he try to put system right but firdt we have to have him ghas a pm

  4. You have to trust Jeremy after all what will there be left when he becomes PM the tories are running the country into the ground

  5. Readerbythesea

    Is April 2017 when these cuts to ESAWrag take place?

  6. I doubt it, blue Labour stood back and let the enforcement of the cuts and the bedroom tax to happen, if he tries, the red tories of his party will fight him on it so like I said, I doubt it!

    1. Mike Sivier

      Anybody in the Labour Party fighting a planned opposition of ESA, PIP and the WCA is on a one-way ticket out of Parliament, in my opinion.

  7. Florence

    I’m happy to allow Corbyn to have the time to access the best advice and input to make a policy that will work. The Shadow Minister who would normally lead policy development in this area is Owen Smith. In communications from Corbyn this past week include commitment to uphold Human RIghts (bearing in mind the UN report on immediate repeal of the 2012 and 2016 Acts) and to improve the care service to ensure care of the old and disabled live with dignity (10 point plan), and the over-arching commitment that “no-one should be left behind”.

    The whole system (designed and built by Cooper under Burnham) is based on a false and discredited ideological model. Both the WCA and ESA need a replacement system, and that is where serious research needs to be done. The in depth work cannot be done within a leadership challenge, in opposition, with a Shadow Minister for DWP not doing his job. It can be counter productive expecting Corbyn to have the policy fully developed at this point. I trust JC to develop the policies in the best interests of all the people, including the vulnerable and left-behind and the scapegoated. There are persistent rumours of a Basic Income plan, which would be a complete game changer.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Just one correction: The Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is Debbie Abrahams. We do have a shadow minister and she is doing her job.
      Personally, I would have preferred it if she’d had the job from last September because she has been a good friend to the sick and disabled.

      1. Florence

        Absolutely right Mike, Debbie is now the Shadow. I see my comment is actually not saying what I meant – sorry about that. Where I said “would normally” I was trying to say that Owen Smith was the one who should have been working on policy from last Sept until now, but as JC said “[Smith] walked away” with his resignation. Prior to June JC was under constant pressure and challenges from within the party along with the ungovernable PLP, hence my remark about Smith “not doing his job” if there hadn’t been progress on work on policies. A jib efrom by Smith that there hadn’t been policy development prior to June, and that he (Smith) had “lead” the opposition that forced a U-turn was destroyed by the dryly accurate “It was your job” from Corbyn concerning Smith’s activities prior to June. At least one of those resigning in June has said he deleted all his work, and one wonders how many others also committed such unprofessional acts of vandalism, undoing six months work on policy development.

        I share your expectations, as you indicate, that Debbie Abrahams is a better Shadow Sec of State, but she really has had little time to show her strengths. (And I will try and refrain from commenting while I am having a CFS brain fog flare – honest!)

  8. Victoria

    I find this rather ironic. These cuts are being drawn attention to, pointing out that it’s unfair to expect sick and disabled people to live on roughly £70 a week. Yet I have just learned that when claiming housing benefit and ESA, that’s exactly what you are expected to live on. I agree that punishing people for being sick is disgusting, but why is this not more widely known about?

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