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ESA cuts to go ahead as Lords back down

The BBC is reporting that the House of Lords is to back down from its opposition to government plans to cut £30 per week from the benefit of new claimants in the work-related activity group (WRAG) of employment and support allowance (ESA).

The Lords have overturned the proposals twice and sent them back to the Commons. But it appears that they have backed away from sending them back a third time, with the result that the cuts for new ESA claimants will go ahead as planned from April 2017.

The government has said that the changes will not affect current claimants.

You can read the full story on the BBC website.

Comments  

+1 #23 naheegan 2016-03-12 13:36
The Hansard text for 07/03/2016 reflect just how deeply and to what extent these ESA WRAg cuts will affect disabled claimants. Succinctly, the work related activity component will be cut from both EAS WRAg as well as UC to take effect April 2017. As we know, this will affect all new claimants. It may be that those asking for MR or those who go to appeal, who have a break of 12 weeks or more in their claims, will also have their award reduced to the current level of JSA which now stands at 72.15 per week.
This is only one cut affecting disabled claimants. With many PIP transitions from DLA and reduced awards from HRM to the standard rate, this will reflect another cut for individuals claiming this benefit. From DLA HRM of 57.55/wk to PIP standard of 21.80/wk. This represents a further loss of 142.60 per month, bringing the total of cuts to this group to 262.60.That is a reduction in income of almost 42%.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201516/ldhansrd/text/160307-0001.htm#16030712000789
#22 tintack 2016-03-11 16:41
Quoting Asbo:
Tintack, Sarah Wollaston is my MP! I can tell you now, I have written to her every stage of the way re Welfare Reform. Do not be fooled. I have sent her email after email and article after article about the dangers of sanctions and all sorts eg regarding Mandatory Reconsideration, the lot. She just trots out the party line and now has taken to quoting from the DWP. Also, being a former GP didn't count for much, she just came back with how many people she saw trapped on benefits.


If she's taken to quoting from the DWP we can definitely cross her off the list of sane Tories! And it wasn't a very long list to start with. When I read that she'd supported the WRAG cut I did start to think that her image as a decent, compassionate Tory was a sham. What you've described here confirms it. We're talking about people too ill to work, so quite how they're "trapped on benefits" I don't know, when it's those benefits, meagre though they are, which allow people to keep their heads above water.

Quote:
As for Reform being accountable...these huge corporations seem to be above the law and are largely unaccountable.
Reform won't be accountable, they can suggest policy but they can't implement it. When I wondered who would be accountable in the scenario I described, I was thinking of the following:

1.The DWP for forcing the claimant to accept the treatment.
2.The doctor/HCP who administers the treatment
3. Private company such as Maximus if they have any role in forcing claimants to accept treatment they don't want.

If someone is not only forced to accept treatment they don't want in return for benefit, but also suffers adverse consequences from that treatment, there are two clear issues there and there should be accountability for both. I suspect the answer to my question "who would be accountable?" is actually:

4. None of the above.
#21 Asbo 2016-03-11 12:34
Having said that, Tintack, thanks for reminding me of the Sarah Wollaston angle on that because I can use that in the Reform email and also contact Wollaston about the Reform proposals seeing as 'ethics' is close to her 'heart'.
#20 Asbo 2016-03-11 12:30
Quote:
Quoting Asbo:
"I also think you will find you are on very dangerous ground with trying to make financial payments 'conditional' on medical treatment.


This is a very good point. It's not the first time this has been suggested, there were similar stories a couple of years ago, as this article makes clear:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/10964588/Stripping-benefits-claimants-if-they-refuse-depression-treatment-is-unethical.html

Reform appear to be arguing for something similar to the plans mentioned in the article. Note that the scathing criticism of this idea as hugely unethical came from a Tory MP, Dr Sarah Wollaston, She seems to be one of the few sane people left in the Tory party and she is a former GP, and therefore rather better qualified to talk about this than a political think tank. Just for good measure this article is from a right wing paper, so even Reform shouldn't be able to object to it.

I'd also be interested in the answer to this question: suppose someone is forced into treatment in return for their benefit, and now suppose their health suffers as a result of that treatment. Who should be held accountable? .
Tintack, Sarah Wollaston is my MP! I can tell you now, I have written to her every stage of the way re Welfare Reform. Do not be fooled. I have sent her email after email and article after article about the dangers of sanctions and all sorts eg regarding Mandatory Reconsideration , the lot. She just trots out the party line and now has taken to quoting from the DWP. Also, being a former GP didn't count for much, she just came back with how many people she saw trapped on benefits. As for Reform being accountable...t hese huge corporations seem to be above the law and are largely unaccountable.
+1 #19 tintack 2016-03-10 23:50
By the way, I thought Wollaston was against the £30 WRAG cut, but it seems she voted for it, so she's not as sane as I thought!
+1 #18 tintack 2016-03-10 22:17
Quoting Asbo:
"I also think you will find you are on very dangerous ground with trying to make financial payments 'conditional' on medical treatment.


This is a very good point. It's not the first time this has been suggested, there were similar stories a couple of years ago, as this article makes clear:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/10964588/Stripping-benefits-claimants-if-they-refuse-depression-treatment-is-unethical.html

Reform appear to be arguing for something similar to the plans mentioned in the article. Note that the scathing criticism of this idea as hugely unethical came from a Tory MP, Dr Sarah Wollaston, She seems to be one of the few sane people left in the Tory party and she is a former GP, and therefore rather better qualified to talk about this than a political think tank. Just for good measure this article is from a right wing paper, so even Reform shouldn't be able to object to it.

I'd also be interested in the answer to this question: suppose someone is forced into treatment in return for their benefit, and now suppose their health suffers as a result of that treatment. Who should be held accountable? Given the total lack of accountability with the WCA, under which claimants can die without anyone at Atos/Maximus or the DWP being brought to book, I think this is probably something to which Reform have not given much, if any thought.

I certainly think it's worth asking Reform what they think the impact of imposing conditionality on such vulnerable people is likely to be. Since we're talking here about people who are unfit for work, I hope Reform are not suggesting that plunging them into deeper deprivation will somehow force them into work that they can't do in the first place.
#17 Asbo 2016-03-10 21:26
[quote name="tintack
"]Hi Asbo. That looks good to me. A couple of points.

Are Reform seriously trying to suggest that people with serious and chronic conditions don't already do what they can to make their health as good as possible? Do they honestly think that people allow their health to be even worse than it needs to be just for a few quid of benefit? And if they mean "rehabilitative steps" in the sense of returning to work, that just takes us back to the point already made, i.e. if you pass a test deliberately stacked against you, then you really are unfit for work.


Thanks Tintack. Good points. I will leave out the bit about PIP. It's quite a long email but this is what I said about 'rehabilitative steps':

"I also think you will find you are on very dangerous ground with trying to make financial payments 'conditional' on medical treatment. There are many examples but let me just give you a couple: many people with anxiety may have tried 'talking treatments' in the past but to no avail and find what has helped them most is antidepressants . However, the antidepressants themselves may have side effects such as fatigue or aggression. The converse may also be true, a person with depression may have tried antidepressants but had to come off them because the side effects made them worse. It would be wrong and frankly dangerous for anybody other than a GP to prescribe treatment."

I will tweak it obviously. At the end of it, in a nutshell I say I don't expect them to listen but I draw a parallel with how the culture in 60s/70s was not to take child abuse seriously and how years alter nobody can believe how it was ignored and now it is open season with disabled people
+1 #16 tintack 2016-03-10 16:43
Hi Asbo. That looks good to me. A couple of points.

First, this pearl of wisdom:

Quote:
"those with mild or moderate health conditions that, with support, could be managed should be expected to take reasonable rehabilitative steps – some level of conditionality should therefore be applied".
You've dealt with the nonsense about "mild to moderate conditions", but I'd also pick up on the bit which says that claimants with these mysterious conditions - which are mild or moderate enough that they can work, yet simultaneously bad enough that they've passed the WCA - should take "reasonable rehabilitative steps". Are Reform seriously trying to suggest that people with serious and chronic conditions don't already do what they can to make their health as good as possible? Do they honestly think that people allow their health to be even worse than it needs to be just for a few quid of benefit? And if they mean "rehabilitative steps" in the sense of returning to work, that just takes us back to the point already made, i.e. if you pass a test deliberately stacked against you, then you really are unfit for work.

Second, when you say

Quote:
"I really would like to know what health conditions you have in mind because - for PIP at any rate - the policy makers never ceased stressing how 'it wasn't the condition itself but the way it affects a person'."
there's no need to say "for PIP at any rate" because the exact same argument has been used by the DWP in respect of ESA and the WCA. In fact the claptrap about the WCA being a "functional rather than diagnostic test" is the way they try to circumvent genuine medical expertise.
#15 Asbo 2016-03-10 14:01
@tintack:

Draft to Reform

"You state that "those with mild or moderate health conditions that, with support, could be managed should be expected to take reasonable rehabilitative steps – some level of conditionality should therefore be applied".

So what actually are 'mild to moderate conditions'? All people who have passed the WCA which - as you very well know is one of the most stringent and difficult to pass in the world - have all got serious and/or chronic health conditions otherwise they would have failed the WCA. In fact, so stringent is the WCA that even those with serous conditions do fail it, because the bar has been set so high. But you seem quite prepared to risk hounding more and more sick and disabled people. I really would like to know what health conditions you have in mind because - for PIP at any rate - the policy makers never ceased stressing how 'it wasn't the condition itself but the way it affects a person'. But now you seek to class some conditions into one or other category. "
#14 tintack 2016-03-10 01:00
Quoting Asbo:
And re the BPS model:

"We are also under no illusion about the use 'biopsychosocial factors' which hides a chilling reality. Here are just a couple of the comments taken from the following blog but they are typical of a much wider rejection of this approach of the BPS model for the reasons listed below:

http://wheresthebenefit.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/models-of-disability.html "


It seems there was a pre-Unum BPS model which may not have been disreputable, but that link makes it clear that it has been perverted to serve political ideology and vested financial interests.

The research by Mo Stewart, an ex-NHS nurse and armed forces veteran, is very interesting. She concluded that the WCA was a virtual replica of Unum's American "disability denial factory" (as the judge in the 2003 court case put it) and based on the same pseudoscience (i.e. the Unum version of the BPS model). Unum used their test to deny legitimate insurance claims. It was used as a blueprint for the WCA so the latter could be used for denying legitimate benefit claims. Her research has been accepted as evidence by parliamentary select committees and as far as I know its accuracy has never been disputed, not even by the DWP.

Given the above, perhaps Reform could say if they agree with this proposition: if someone is deemed unfit for work even by a test which is deliberately stacked against them, one may safely conclude that that person is indeed unfit for work. In the light of this, the idea that the main problem with the WCA is that it's "too binary" is simply risible.

Reform strike me as the sort of people who would say that describing someone as alive or dead is "too binary". Yes, they may have rigor mortis, but with the right "incentivisatio n" they have a promising career as a scarecrow ahead of them.
+1 #13 tintack 2016-03-10 00:39
Asbo, this might be useful too:

https://disabilitybenefitsconsortium.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/almost-70-of-disabled-people-say-cuts-to-esa-will-cause-their-health-to-suffer-and-half-may-return-to-work-later/

In particular this bit:

Quote:
When asked what the likely impact would be if their ESA were to be cut by £30 per week:

45% say they would return to work later.
69% think their health would get worse.
69% would struggle to pay their bills.
70% would struggle to maintain their independence

Indeed, over half (57%) of people surveyed said the amount of ESA they currently receive is not enough to live on. As a consequence

Almost a third (28%) couldn’t afford to eat.
Over a third (36%) have been trapped in their house as they couldn’t afford a taxi.
Over a third (38%) have been unable to heat their home (38%).
52% have struggled to stay healthy.
The idea that the "extra" £30 per week WRAG component disincentivises people to find work implies that WRAG claimants are having an easy time of it. The fact that people are struggling so badly on the current WRAG rate blows that idea out of the water and also makes it clear just how bad the impact of the £30 per week cut will be. It might also be worth asking Reform to produce evidence for the disincentivisat ion claim, since the government has failed to produce any.

it's also worth pointing out to these idiots that the disincentivisat ion claim is also illogical: WRAG claimants are not deterred from finding work because they have been found unfit for work! They are therefore nor expected to find work. Either Reform don't know this, in which case they're bloody lousy researchers, or they do know it and they're trolling us.
#12 Asbo 2016-03-09 22:52
Quote:


So according to Reform the problem with the WCA is that it's too binary. The fact that it's caused huge numbers of people to be wrongly found fit for work because it's so brutally harsh doesn't come into it then? Apparently not. And it's nice to see Reform invoking the discredited pseudoscience of the biopsychosocial model of disability to justify their nonsense.

I'm sure this is what IDS wants to do. Only a few months ago he was describing the WCA as too binary. I can't remember if that was the word he used but it was certainly what he meant. He didn't say then what he wanted to bring in to replace the WCA; I think we can safely say that now we know.
Yes: here is just a sample of the reply I have drafted to Reform (re the pass/fail for instance: "I would like to think by this you are meaning a more humane compassionate test but there has been absolutely nothing since the Coalition government in 2010 that has given disabled people confidence in the government's motives towards disabled people. I can list just a few of the countless changes that have gone in the opposite direction: closure of the ILF, cuts to housing benefit in the form of the bedroom tax, cuts to DLA, sanctions introduced for people on ESA, closing of Remploy factories, cuts to Access To Work, cuts to Legal Aid and access to justice and now slashing 33% of the income of some of the poorest people in society - those in the ESA WRAG."

And re the BPS model:

"We are also under no illusion about the use 'biopsychosocia l factors' which hides a chilling reality. Here are just a couple of the comments taken from the following blog but they are typical of a much wider rejection of this approach of the BPS model for the reasons listed below:

http://wheresthebenefit.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/models-of-disability.html "

(I copied some very good quotes from that site)
+1 #11 tintack 2016-03-09 19:47
I thought there might be another vote to come in the Commons on the WRAG cut, but it seems not. The bastards have got their way. Still, at least the media is doing a terrific job of bringing this issue to public attention by, er, barely saying a word about it. Hurrah for democracy.
#10 denise 2016-03-09 19:39
i call this disabled discrimination backing down on the tax for higher earners and taking 30 pounds fom the disabled. in the WRAG.
+1 #9 tintack 2016-03-09 19:14
Quoting Asbo:
This is what i said last week - they've got away with it for ESA WRAG, so what's to stop them invoking financial privilege for the Support Group? IDS must be laughing all the way to the house of conmen. This is the link, Tintack and others, for that proposal - I suggest we all email reform (email address is on the article) and publish their replies:

http://www.reform.uk/publication/working-welfare-a-radically-new-approach-to-sickness-and-disability-benefits/


So according to Reform the problem with the WCA is that it's too binary. The fact that it's caused huge numbers of people to be wrongly found fit for work because it's so brutally harsh doesn't come into it then? Apparently not. And it's nice to see Reform invoking the discredited pseudoscience of the biopsychosocial model of disability to justify their nonsense.

I'm sure this is what IDS wants to do. Only a few months ago he was describing the WCA as too binary. I can't remember if that was the word he used but it was certainly what he meant. He didn't say then what he wanted to bring in to replace the WCA; I think we can safely say that now we know.
#8 Asbo 2016-03-09 16:16
Quote:
Quoting Plonker:
Support Group next?


IDS's favourite think tank, Reform, has submitted a paper to parliament arguing that all disability premiums should be abolished, including those for the support group as well as the WRAG. It's circulating around the DWP now.

This hasn't been announced as government policy yet, but I'm sure they'll go for it if they think they can get away with it. The only thing that might stop them is if they have trouble getting the WRAG cuts through. The Lords may have backed down, but it doesn't take many Tory MPs to vote against the government to inflict a defeat. One or two have already said they're not happy with the WRAG cut, so we'll have to see if they have the guts to follow through, and if they can bring some others along with them.
This is what i said last week - they've got away with it for ESA WRAG, so what's to stop them invoking financial privilege for the Support Group? IDS must be laughing all the way to the house of conmen. This is the link, Tintack and others, for that proposal - I suggest we all email reform (email address is on the article) and publish their replies:

http://www.reform.uk/publication/working-welfare-a-radically-new-approach-to-sickness-and-disability-benefits/
#7 Blackcat 2016-03-08 20:42
This is what we have been waiting for! Levellers to horse! Master Cromwell has said 'The Lord shall make thee as stubble to the sword' John Milton was blind,was he 'inappropriate' Come on moderator,I lost my sight,now I have it back. Go on cut it loose moderator,let the damn thing loose. Yes I have autism. I got the throttle,you got the bottle???
There is a heavy price to be paid for being PUSSY!!!!!!
+1 #6 tintack 2016-03-08 20:24
There's a report here:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/a-black-day-for-disabled-people-as-government-pushes-through-cuts-to-esa-a6918421.html

It seems the Lords were given little choice as the government invoked financial privilege. But if the Tories are happy to demonise claimants, they'll find it harder to vilify someone like Tanni Grey-Thompson, who made some pretty scathing comments about the WRAG cut. If the Tories do try to go after the Support Group as well I hope she would figure prominently in a campaign against it.
+1 #5 tintack 2016-03-08 20:07
Quoting Plonker:
Support Group next?


IDS's favourite think tank, Reform, has submitted a paper to parliament arguing that all disability premiums should be abolished, including those for the support group as well as the WRAG. It's circulating around the DWP now.

This hasn't been announced as government policy yet, but I'm sure they'll go for it if they think they can get away with it. The only thing that might stop them is if they have trouble getting the WRAG cuts through. The Lords may have backed down, but it doesn't take many Tory MPs to vote against the government to inflict a defeat. One or two have already said they're not happy with the WRAG cut, so we'll have to see if they have the guts to follow through, and if they can bring some others along with them.
#4 Plonker 2016-03-08 17:43
Support Group next?

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