Secret Tory plans to slash sickness benefits for people unable to work have been leaked in a document, it has been reported today.
Tory ministers are considering slashing Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for claimants in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) by as much as £30 a week, affecting thousands of sick and disabled people.
The move would see the value of ESA for this group of jobseekers falling from £102.15 a week to the same level as Jobseeker’s Allowance – £73.10 a week for jobseekers over the age of 25.
Work Capability Assessments (WCA) would also be overhauled and renamed “Employment Capability Assessments”, to “focus attention on work seeking, not benefit seeking”, reports the Daily Mirror.
According to the leaked document, the WRAG does not “incentivise” claimants to look for work. It argues that scrapping the WRAG would mean less people would have to “worry” about a wrong WCA decision.
Claimants in the WRAG, who have been assessed for ESA, are regarded as being unfit for work but could be able to return to employment in the future. They may be expected to take part in ‘work related activity’, such as participation in the Work Programme and attending ‘Work Focused Interviews’ at jobcentres.
Sick and disabled jobseeker’s in the WRAG would not receive any extra financial support in looking for work, even though they may have more barriers to employment than able-bodied jobseekers.
The BBC reports that cutting sickness benefits is not yet government policy, but added it was under consideration.
Chancellor George Osborne is expected to provide greater detail on how the government will cut £12bn from the welfare bill in an ’emergency budget’ next week.