Congratulations to Dame Anne Begg who has finally spoken the truth about the Employment Support Allowance “work related activity” group (WRAG).
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Dame Anne Begg, chair of the work and pensions select committee, said last Friday that large groups of people appear to have been “parked” on the benefit in the “work-related activity” group, which covers all those found neither to be fully fit for work nor so disabled that they cannot be expected to look for employment.
Disability activists across the country will be as delighted as Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch that politicians are finally admitting to the false premise on which Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was based.
ESA is a failed experiment conducted live on sick and disabled people.
Sick and disabled people who are assigned to the WRAG are found not fully fit for work. Almost none of them are finding work. Yet the government is sanctioning and stopping their benefits; telling them they are ‘expected’ to find work. This is cruel, it defies logic and is causing tremendous anxiety for claimants. They are being threatened and required to do things that they are not able to do because of their physical or mental condition.
ESA was designed using flawed premises and has failed. It needs to be completely rethought.
Meanwhile Pat’s Petition and CarerWatch call upon this government and the next to take responsibility for this disastrous mistake. We call upon them to introduce the following immediate reforms to prevent disabled people having to live this nightmare existence while the politicians responsible sort it out.
. Reduce the level of sanctions
· Take off the time limits
. Raise the income levels for means testing
· Stop the WCA re-testing for long term and progressive conditions.
·Take the Bedroom tax off disabled people
. Expand the Supported Permitted Work scheme
These changes will make the WRAG safer and reduce the costly appeals against WRAG allocation.
Making these simple changes will make the WRAG safer and give disabled people some space to feel safe away from anxiety, while everyone works together to look for the long term answers.
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