100s of people with a disability today met with their MPs to talk about their concerns with the Welfare Reform and Work Bill (the Bill) as part of a mass lobby organised by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) which is campaigning for changes to the legislation. The DBC is a national coalition of over 60 different charities and other organisations committed to working towards a fair benefits system and includes Mencap, MS Society, Parkinson’s UK, RNIB, Leonard Cheshire Disability, National Autistic Society, and Mind.
A recent Review by three members of the House of Lords gathered evidence from charities and disabled people and found that the Government’s proposed cut of £30 a week to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will directly contradict the Government’s desire to get more disabled people into work.
Research by the DBC found that 57% of people with a disability said that the amount they currently received was not enough to live on, with over a quarter (28%) of disabled people without enough money to eat, and over a third (38%) unable to heat their home.
The main changes the DBC wants to be made to the Bill are:
- scrapping the proposal to cut almost £30 a week from the ESA Work Related Activity Group
- full exemption for disabled people and their family carers from the Benefit Cap
- full exemption for disabled people and their family carers from the benefits freeze.
Ismail Kaji, who has a learning disability and is Parliamentary Affairs Assistant at Mencap said:
“Today we saw over 100 disabled people come to Parliament to meet with their local MP and tell them how these cuts will change their lives. Disabled people don’t always get given a strong voice, yet we are often the first people to feel the effects of Government decisions –so we must be listened to.
“Lots of disabled people aren’t in work, and if these cuts go ahead it will make it even harder for people to find work. People will lose the support they rely on and be pushed closer to poverty, further in debt and isolated from their communities.
“I’m pleased so many MPs met with disabled people today. The Government now needs to take our concerns seriously and make urgent changes to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.”
Sam Jefferies, who met with their local MP, and who has a learning disability, said:
“I am really worried about benefits cuts. Only 6% of people with a learning disability are currently in employment. This number scares me as I, like a lot of people with a learning disability, really want to get a job; however, it is really hard to get work if you have a learning disability. Benefits are important to me because the money helps me to stay independent, if it was cut I’m worried that I’d become isolated. I am glad I got to meet with my local MP, but want to make sure that these cuts, especially to Employment and Support Allowance, do not go ahead.”
There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.
For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email firstname.lastname@example.org