Today the Guardian has exposed the scandal of ESA.
People with severe long term health conditions and disability are being forced off sickness benefit and on to JSA.
Congratulations to the Guardian and let’s hope with continued campaigning we can get the government to stop withdrawing protection from people with disability and forcing them on to JSA to save money.
However – even if you make it to ESA the battle isn’t over. ESA is divided in to two groups – one that is safe and one that is a nightmare. Only a minority of lucky people continue to get protection in the Support Group. That’s long term unconditional support and help back to work if you want it. Perfect.
Unfortunately most people who are awarded ESA are only awarded a lower benefit and are put in the WRAG (Work Related Activity Group). The WRAG is an appalling half way house – time limited for a year and exposing you to endless harassment. In the WRAG you will be called in for endless interviews for ever, made to do work related activity, have your benefits removed as a sanction if you don’t try hard enough and in the end pushed on to JSA. Why should over half the people with long term disability be subject to this bullying.
Why – if your condition is not going to get better? This group was originally intended as a rehabilitation group for people who would get better. Are you really regarded as a fraud? The WRAG is illegal. You are awarded ESA because your condition is such that it is not reasonable to require you to work. But the WRAG effectively requires you to get ready for work.
So congratulations to the Guardian for exposing the scandal of people with disability forced off sickness benefit and on to JAS. But that isn’t the whole story. Further down the line within ESA the WRAG is going to be a source of enormous problems. For people with long term disability the division of ESA in to the Support Group and the WRAG is a meaningless division. If you have an enduring condition that won’t get better and that makes you unfit for work the division in to two groups is meaningless. One group gets bullied and the other doesn’t. What is the point of the coercion in the WRAG.
CarerWatch signed this letter to the Guadian in response to the articles.