The Scottish National Party has today issued an urgent plea to the Chancellor to delay devastating cuts to disability support in the Autumn Statement ahead of a Westminster debate on the issue.
The backbench business debate on Neil Gray MP’s motion will take place on Thursday 17th November.
Neil Gray MP, the SNP’s spokesperson for Fair Work and Employment, has written to Philip Hammond to request a meeting prior to the Autumn Statement and to ask that he delay the cuts until alternative measures have been considered.
Neil Gray MP said: “There are almost half a million disabled people across the UK who rely on ESA WRAG and this cut of £30 a week for people who are unable to work is punitive and regressive.
“Instead of helping people who have a long-term illness or a disability to live independently, this cut will push people further from work and risks putting individuals in real danger of hardship- which completely flies in the face of the UK Government’s manifesto commitment to halve the disability employment gap.
“There is cross-party support – including from MPs from the government benches – for our call to postpone these cuts until after alternative support for sick and disabled people is in place.
“This is our urgent plea to the Chancellor – use the Autumns Statement to delay these cuts and together we can work to ensure that appropriate support is delivered for sick and disabled people when they are unable to work.”
In a letter to Chancellor Philip Hammond, Mr Gray writes:
Employment Support Allowance Work Related Activity Component and the corresponding limited capability for work component in Universal Credit
I write in relation to above mentioned benefits that support sick and disabled people.
I am concerned that the UK Government is planning to reduce the Employment Support Allowance Work Related Activity Component and the corresponding limited capability for work component in Universal Credit in April 2017. This measure will cut the weekly amount received by recipients with long term health conditions or disabilities by £30.
Currently there are 492,180 disabled people across the UK reliant on ESA WRAG who will, accordingly to their third sector representatives, struggle to live independently and be pushed further from work. The Universal Credit component cut will impact on disabled people both out of work but also those in work, particularly those on low wages. This flies in the face of the sentiment that your Government has expressed around halving the disability employment gap.
While I broadly welcome the recent announcement from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the Green Paper, “Work, health and disability: improving lives” currently cuts are still due to take place before the Green Paper can be considered or the potential measures implemented.
Having secured support from MPs of nine parties in parliament for an urgent backbench business debate next week on this matter, which has garnered support from at least four of your Conservative colleagues, I would plea to you, use the upcoming Autumn Statement to postpone the cuts to Employment Support Allowance Work Related Activity Component and the corresponding limited capability for work component in Universal Credit until appropriate alternative measures have been considered. Those measures, must achieve the shared commitment to progress the commitment to halve the disability employment gap and secure support for current and future claimants so that sick and disabled people are supported adequately when they are unable to work.
This is an opportunity to look afresh at an issue which I believe may now be opposed by a majority of MPs in the House.
I would be sincerely grateful if you could give this matter its due consideration and would be willing to meet at anytime ahead of the Autumn Statement to discuss this in more detail, if you would be willing to consider this in greater depth.
Neil Gray MP
This is an official press release from the Scottish National Party (SNP).