Welfare Reform & Work Bill: What Do Disabled People Think?

I’m back here in Westminster for the Disability
Benefits Consortium mass lobby of Parliament. Over 150 people with disabilities have gathered
here to talk to their MPs to express their concern about benefit cuts.
I’m going to talk with some of these people, and ask them why they have come here and
what their message is. Today’s Lobby concerns the Welfare Reform
and Work Bill currently being debated in Parliament. The Government wants to cut about £30 per
week to Employment and Support Allowance for those in the Work-Related Activity Group,
and the equivalent payment for those on Universal Credit. It thinks that this money is a disincentive for disabled people to find work. It’s a controversial debate and I want to get to the bottom of it. All the members of Brent… of Brent Mencap are concerned with any cuts. It’s basically on the ESA. And there was also, the other thing of jobcentres actually not being very
good for giving us a chance to find work. If things need fixing, fix it; if they don’t
leave well alone. [David Allkins] The Minister for Disability, Justin Tomlinson, has said that the WRAG component of ESA – the extra £30 – is acting as a disincentive for
people to find work. What are your feelings on this? I think they’re completely, completely wrong,
on many levels. Being ill, being disabled, living with illness just costs more. And for
people to be able to get themselves well enough to get back into work, they’re going to
need a period of time where they need that support and it’s going to cost them some
extra. [David Allkins] I put the same points to Shadow Minister for Disabled People, Debbie Abrahams. I think he’s wrong. We know that, according
to the Extra Costs Commission, disabled people face £500 a month in extra costs. This is
going to push more and more people into poverty. 2% of disabled people went into poverty last
year; that’s 300,000 people. It’s an absolute myth that this is going to disincentivise
people to look for work and we should be making sure that there is the work for disabled people
to go into. This is penalising disabled people, taking the money away from them, with nothing
in terms of opportunities in work for them to go into. [David Allkins] My own MP, Steve Double, saw things very differently. I think it’s really important that we do everything
we can to give equal opportunities to people with disabilities to get a job and get into the workplace. This government’s been working hard to reform the welfare system, to make
work pay, so that people with disabilities have that opportunity, and can have the sense
of fulfilment and pride in earning a wage. We’ve seen almost 340,000 people
with disabilities get jobs and get into the workplace in the last 2 years. [David Allkins] The Disability Benefits Consortium is a coalition of charities committed to working towards a fair benefits system. The DBC organised today’s lobby of parliament. Rob, you’re the Co-Chair of the Disability
Benefits Consortium and you helped organise this parliamentary lobby for today. How well do you think it’s gone and do you think it’s been a success? I think it’s gone really well and been a great success and we’ve had over 150 disabled
people come to parliament today to talk to their local MPs about the cuts facing disabled
people as part of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill. We’ve had lots of MPs come along. I think I’ve counted over 80 MPs, including MPs that are on the front benches of the Labour Party as well as lots of other important MPs. So I’m really pleased with how it’s gone. [David Allkins] We’ve heard opinions on both sides of this debate, and this debate will continue in this
place. The Welfare Reform and Work Bill is continuing its way through Parliament. Time
will tell if the government will take into account the views of disabled people that
they have heard here today.

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

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