SNP MP Mhairi Black has said the UK government must pay attention to cross-party calls for cuts to support for sick and disabled people who are unable to work to be halted until additional support is introduced.
The Work and Pensions Committee, which Mhairi Black is a member of, has today published a report on the Disability Employment Gap and the £30 a week cut to Employment Support Allowance (Work Related Activity Group) which is due to hit new claimants from April.
MPs found no evidence that reducing benefit payments actually helps people into work and have called for a “clear plan” from the UK government as to how the extra, unavoidable living costs relating to an individual’s condition will be covered.
MPs have also called on the UK government to introduce a “code of conduct” for Jobcentres staff to safeguard vulnerable disabled people and to ensure that a claimant’s mental and physical wellbeing is taken into account when deciding whether to impose a benefit sanction – as Mhairi Black proposed in her Private Member’s Bill which was introduced last year.
Mhairi Black MP said: “If the UK government is determined to press ahead with the devastating and damaging cut of £30 a week for sick and disabled people who are unable to work, it is vital that additional support is introduced and I wholeheartedly support the Committee’s call.
“It echoes the calls made by SNP MPs and previous cross-party efforts to force this Tory government to recognise how foolish it would be to cut Employment Support Allowance while there are no extra support measures in place.
“We heard countless pieces of evidence about how the imposition of benefit sanctions push disabled people further from work, and where there is substantial risk of damage to their health as a result.
“I am delighted that the committee has united behind my bill, which would establish a code of conduct to protect those at risk from benefit sanctions.
“It’s imperative that the Department now take our recommendations on board to at-least, deliver safeguards to protect disabled people from the devastating effects of the cruel and callous sanctions regime and ensure that their progress towards work is not impeded.”