The House of Lords this afternoon gave its assent to a cut of £30 per week for new claimants in the work-related activity group (WRAG) of employment and support allowance (ESA) yesterday.
The House of Lords had twice voted against reducing the level of payments for claimants, many of whom have degenerative diseases or serious mental health conditions, to the same level as jobseeker’s allowance.
However, on its third return to the Lords, the House of Commons claimed financial privilege for the cuts. By tradition the Lords do not overrule the Commons where a bill relates to finance.
The cut is due to be introduced in April 2017 and the DWP have said it will not affect current claimants.
The government’s cynical claim is that by cutting ESA WRAG claimants’ income to the same level as JSA, they will be encouraged to go out and find work.
Baroness Grey-Thomson told the Lords that:
“I apologise to the people affected by this Bill that, at this point, we could not do any more. This may be the end of the legislative process, but it is the start of the negative impact the Bill will have on thousands of people’s lives. It may be seen as a victory in terms of voting numbers in another place, but we cannot forget that there are many disabled people who will lose out. That may be realised only when the letters come flooding in.”