The Green Party has reacted furiously to what it describes as a ‘three pronged Government attack’, that could push thousands of sick and disabled benefit claimants into greater hardship and poverty.
Internal government documents seen by the BBC suggest that the government is considering cutting Employment and Support Allowance by almost £30 per week.
It has also emerged that thousands of people with degenerative and incurable diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis, are having their benefits slashed, because the Department for Work and Pensions believes that they will ‘recover’ enough to work.
Thirdly, the DWP announced last week that the highly controversial company Maximus is to take over Work Capability Assessments (WCA) for the sickness benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Maximus is replacing the disgraced French firm Atos, whose benefit assessors will be permitted to hold on to their jobs and transferred to the American firm.
The Green Party’s Work and Pensions spokesperson Jonathan Bartley said:
“The Government is turning the screw even more tightly on the sick and disabled.
“Cutting benefits for sick and disabled people, who have already been disproportionately targeted and are already more likely to be living in poverty, is completely unacceptable.
“The Work Capability Assessment has proved a very expensive disaster in both financial and human terms. It must be abolished and replaced with a system that truly reflects the needs and aspirations of sick and disabled people. Those who cannot work must receive the support they need.
“It is unnecessary to pay hundreds of millions of pounds to private companies like Atos and Maximus, when sick and disabled people, and their own NHS doctors, can tell us what they need.
“Public services should be run for the common good, not private profit. Maximus has already been embroiled in controversy and should not be involved in crucial decisions as to what support will be offered to sick and disabled people in the UK.”
Around a third of all disabled adults aged 25 to retirement are living in low-income households, according to figures from The Poverty Site. This is twice the rate of that for non-disabled adults.