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ESA disability benefit cuts are to go ahead

38Bangla Mirror Desk :

Cruel cuts to benefits for sick and disabled people will now go ahead, after Lords were forced to back down in their opposition to Government plans.
Ministers were twice defeated by Peers over plans to slash Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) by £30 a week.
But the measure was today pushed through the upper chamber, in what Lord Low described as a “black day for disabled people.”
Welfare Secretary Iain Duncan Smith wants to cut sick and disabled peoples’ ESA from £102.15 to £73.10 a week from April 2017 – equal to jobseeker’s allowance – if they are deemed fit for “work-related activity”.
Half a million people are in the work-related activity group. The cuts will only affect new claimants or those who interrupt their claims for more than 12 weeks.
Elliot Dunster, Group Head of Policy, Research and Public Affairs at disability charity Scope, said: “Reducing Employment and Support Allowance will have a harmful impact on disabled people.
“We’re deeply disappointed that the Government is pushing ahead with its plans despite opposition from the House of Lords and many MPs.
“Half a million disabled people will be affected by this proposal – losing around £30 a week – at a time when they are already struggling to make ends meet.
“Reducing disabled people’s incomes won’t incentivise them to find a job. It will just make life harder.
“The Government has committed to halving the disability employment gap, but cutting financial support is not the answer.”
Steve Ford, Chief Executive at Parkinson’s UK, said: “This is a dark day for people with Parkinson’s who will be left reeling from today’s result. As the Lords have pointed out time and again there is absolutely no evidence to support these proposals or any analysis into the impact they will have on people with Parkinson’s and other long term conditions.
“It’s now more important than ever that ESA assessments are vastly improved to take into account the progressive and fluctuating nature of Parkinson’s. Too many people with the condition are left on the breadline because of assessors who don’t understand Parkinson’s, and a crude tick-box assessment process.”
Peers have already voted against the measure twice , with crossbench peer Lord Low tabling amendments which saw the Welfare Reform and Work bill sent back to the Commons to be looked at again.
But when MPs backed it for a third time , they attached “financial privilege” to the measure, which will save the Treasury £1.3billion.
As a result, Peers were out of options, and were forced to accept the primacy of the Commons on issues with budgetary impact.
The fight to stop cuts to ESA climaxed in a crunch vote last week, when even some Tory MPs spoke out in opposition.
Tory backbencher Heidi Allen led a dramatic rebellion in the house, ahead of the vote on Wednesday.
She spoke out after Iain Duncan Smith wrote a furious letter to MPs accusing peers of an “abuse of Parliamentary process” and warning: “The Commons as the elected chamber must now have the final say.”
In written plea to colleagues on Mirror Online just hours before the Commons vote, Ms Allen warned there was not enough evidence mental health patients and the disabled will be protected.
The South Cambridgeshire MP wrote: “A compassionate Conservative can be both progressive and free, but safeguarding of society and showing care for others.
“I am encouraging us to be both. We ARE both.”
January 27: Peers in the House of Lords vote 283-198 to defeat the ESA cuts completely. The issue is passed back to the House of Commons, where the Tories have a majority.
February 23: Despite the Lords’ concerns, MPs vote 306-279 to throw them out and carry on with ESA cuts anyway. Ministers apply ‘financial privilege’ to the cuts, meaning they must be pressed through in some form for the sake of the nation’s finances, and pass the decision back to the House of Lords.
February 29: The House of Lords votes 289-219 for a lesser amendment that would halt the cuts until a full impact assessment. They are warned this will delay the cut until 2020 and cost £1billion.
March 3: MPs gather to vote on the Lords amendment. Labour MPs are whipped to back it and Tory MPs are told to fight it.
March 7: The Bill returns to the Lords, who are powerless to block it further after Ministers attached a “financial privilege to the cuts, and are forced to recognise the primacy of the Commons on budgetary matters.
The Bill will now receive royal assent, and become law.