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MPs express concerns over new disabled payments

A wheelchair user
A wheelchair user Image credit: bbc.co.uk

Changes to the benefit system could affect thousands of people with disabilities.

A number of MPs have expressed their concerns after the Commons Work and Pensions Committee announced plans to cut unemployed benefits for new disabled claimants because it will encourage them to find work.

From April new Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants will receive the same hand-outs for people on the Jobseeker’s Allowance - £73.10 a week instead of the current payment of £102.15 a week.

The proposed cuts will save the government £1bn by 2020-21.

Chairman of the Committee, Frank Field said: “We expect the Government to respond to this report before the proposed new lower rate of ESA is due in April.

“If they intend to proceed with these cuts, we expect an explanation of how this will not be detrimental to its target of halving the disability employment gap, by making finding and keeping a job even more difficult for disabled people than it already is.”

CEO of Disability Rights UK, Liz Sayce added: “The select committee is right to highlight the forthcoming cuts to Employment Support Allowance as wrong in principle and ineffective in practice.

“We’re not aware of one single disability employment or benefits expert who thinks this particular cut will be an incentive for disabled people to get a job.”

The plans have also come under attack from Scope – the charity’s Mark Atkinson said: “Today’s report is yet another wake-up call to the Government that its cut to ESA is damaging to the everyday lives of many disabled people.

“We know that reducing disabled people’s incomes won’t incentivise them to find a job and won’t help halve the disability employment gap. It will just make life harder.”

The Employment and Support Allowance was introduced in 2008 replacing three older benefits.