Video by Jason Batchelor
First it was Labour…..
In 2006 John Hutton (the Work and Pensions Secretary) introduced a target to remove 1 million people from incapacity benefit – despite a fraud rate of 0.3% (the equivalent of 7500 claimants).
James Purnell (Work and Pensions Secretary 2008-2009) introduced Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) which (amongst other things) assesses people’s ability to pick up an empty cardboard box (once).
Yvette Cooper (Work and Pensions Secretary 2009-2010), claimed she did not receive a letter from a coroner, warning her that ESA could cause suicides. During her tenure terminally ill people were found for fit for work, and she approved a test that assessed amputees abilities to lift empty cardboard boxes with their stumps, and assessed all mobility problems with an imaginary wheelchair.
And then the Tories came to power
Iain Duncan Smith (Work and Pensions secretary 2010-2016) accelerated the roll out of ESA and harshened the criteria. A report by Liverpool and Oxford University estimated that this caused 590 suicides and an additional prescribing of 725 000 antidepressant items. http://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2015/10/26/jech-2015-206209.full
ESA is divided into two groups the unconditional support group and the work related activity group (WRAG). The threshold for the support group is very high – consequently a lot of severely disabled (and in some cases terminally ill people) are required to have meetings with the job centre to discuss their return to work. Failure to comply can result in being sanctioned indefinitely.
Following the election of the first Conservative only government for 23 years, Iain Duncan Smith announced that the WRAG component would be cut by £30 a week. This faced considerable opposition from charities and disabled groups and even three Conservative MPs. One of the Tory opponents of the bill Heidi Allen argued: “I do not believe mentoring and support alone will heat the home of someone recovering from chemotherapy”. (She abstained)
After the bill was passed, disabled charities sacked their Tory patrons.
Find out here how your MP voted: https://dpac.uk.net/2016/02/esa-cut-its-not-over-noesacut/
Debbie Abrahams, Labour’s Shadow Minster for Work and Pensions Pledges the Labour Party to scrap the WCA and “Punitive”Sanctions
Thus Labour comes full circle to oppose WCA, joining the Green Party (who called for the WCA to be halted in 2015 ) and the LibDems who have also pledged to (scrap WCA having previously supported it for 5 years in a coalition which enabled the Tory atrocities to happen ) leaving the Conservatives isolated as the only major national party still supporting hated and damaging Work Capability Assessments
National News Coverage:
news/uk/politics/more-than-60- national-disability-charities- have-condemned-tory-cuts-to- esa-a6919226.html
news/uk/politics/disability- benefit-cuts-will-actually- make-it-harder-for-disabled- people-to-find-work-coalition- of-a6710646.html
news/uk/politics/esa- disability-benefit-cuts-wrag- baroness-campbell-a6918661. html
society/2016/jun/05/docking- welfare-payments-is-not- incentive-to-work-report- claims
society/2016/mar/23/ disability-campaigners-occupy- parliament-over-benefit-cuts? CMP=share_btn_tw
update/2016-03-23/campaigners- hold-protest-in-house-of- commons-lobby/
- Letter to MPs from DPAC https://dpac.uk.net/2016/03/
- Second lettter to MPS https://dpac.uk.net/2016/03/
second-letter-sent-to-mps- prior-to-the-esacut-debate- noesacut/
- Occupation of lobby of parliament over ESA cut https://dpac.uk.net/2016/03/
dpac-occupy-the-lobby-of- parliament-during-pmqs- noesacut-cutosborne/
- Piece on Government mis-information about the ESA Cut https://dpac.uk.net/2016/04/
the-esa-cut-vote-how-much-mps- knew-about-esa-and-the-wrag- not-very-much-actually- esacuts/