Redbridge charities hit out at Iain Duncan Smith’s ESA cuts

PA Wire: Dave Thompson

PA Wire: Dave Thompson - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Redbridge disability charities have said they are “extremely disappointed and frustrated” with the government’s decision to cut employment support allowance (ESA).

MPs voted the bill through last week – despite it suffering a major defeat in the House of Lords – which will see new ESA claimants lose £30 a week.

This benefit is for those the Department of Work and Pensions consider are incapable of work currently but could progress towards employment in the future.

These include people with disabilities, mental health problems and illnesses such as cancer.

Jon Abrams, from Redbridge Disability Consortium, said: “We are extremely disappointed and frustrated by this decision and we know for many disabled people and people with lived experience of mental health problems in Redbridge this will be upsetting and stressful.

“The argument behind this cut was that it would ‘remove the financial incentives that could otherwise discourage claimants from taking steps back to work’.

“However, we know by and large that this isn’t true. Most disabled people and people with mental health problems who are out of work want to work and would be able to do so with the right support.”

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The governments reforms are being spearheaded by Woodford Green MP Iain Duncan Smith, who is secretary of state for the DWP.

Labour’s representative for Ilford North Wes Streeting said he was “bitterly disappointed” the cuts were voted through

The MP agreed with Mr Abrams: “My experience of dealing with these cases is that disabled people are trying to find work and cannot, not that they do not want to find work.”

A DWP spokeswoman said: “Our reforms will mean that people who are capable of looking for work in the future will now be able to access better back to work support.

“Current ESA claimants will continue to get the same level of support, and those with the most severe health conditions and disabilities will continue to get a higher rate of benefit.”