This afternoon, Scope is giving oral evidence to a committee scrutinising the Welfare Reform and Work Bill. It aims to achieve full employment in the economy and reforms a number of working age benefits that will impact on the lives of disabled people.
Scope will be putting forward the following four key priorities to MPs:
Halving the disability employment gap
Scope was very pleased with the government’s bold and ambitious manifesto commitment to halving the disability employment gap, taking forward a Scope pre-election recommendation, set out in our ‘Million Futures’ report.
In order to see this through, we want to see the government include a reporting requirement on halving the disability gap to clause 1 on full employment reporting. Getting a million more disabled people back to work, will be essential to realising the government’s vital aim on full employment.
Research for Scope set out in our ‘Enabling Work’ report shows the substantial economic benefits of even small increases in the disability employment rate – to give just one example, a 10 percentage point increase in the disability employment rate will grow Gross Domestic Product by £45 billion by 2030.
Oppose reduction in Employment Support Allowance payments to the Work Related Activity Group
The government is cutting the financial support provided to disabled people through the Employment and Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group (ESA WRAG).
We do not see this as an answer to halving the disability employment gap. Disabled people placed in ESA WRAG have been found ‘unfit for work’ by the independent Work Capability Assessment. Rather than incentivising disabled people to find work, this will push them further away from the job market, and make their lives harder.
Improving employment support for disabled people
Research shows that disabled people very much want to work, but they face a range of barriers to doing so.
Scope wants to see the government bring forward detailed plans for the development of improved employment support for disabled people in order to enable them to enter, stay and progress in the world of work. Scope has a number of proposals on what specialised employment support should look like for disabled people.
Enhancing extra costs payments for disabled people
Scope welcomes the recognition in this Bill of the importance of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payments (PIP) in meeting the extra costs of disability. Scope’s research shows that disabled people’s extra costs average £550 a month, around £360 of which are met by DLA/PIP.
Scope believes it’s critical the government to build on its commitment to protect DLA/PIP from cuts, by enhancing it through a triple lock so that it’s value rises by the higher of CPI inflation, earnings or 2.5 per cent.
You can follow Scope’s evidence session with MPs today via Twitter and watch this space for a report back on the outcome of Scope’s lobbying on these issues.