A shot of the Houses Of Parliament at night

Welfare Reform and Work Bill – House of Lords debates the future of ESA

The Welfare Reform and Work Bill continues its journey through Parliament. At each stage of the Bill’s passage, Scope has been speaking to MPs, Peers, the Government and partner organisations about our priorities and the changes we would like to see to the Bill.

The Bill proposes changes to the financial support some disabled people receive.  

The Welfare Reform and Work Bill is currently at Committee Stage in the House of Lords when all Peers have the opportunity to analyse the Bill, debate each section and vote on amendments.

Today, Peers will be debating some of the sections of the Bill which are key priorities for Scope as they relate to our campaign to halve the disability employment gap and support for disabled people to find, stay and progress in work.

Cuts to financial support

The Government plans to cut the level of financial support to disabled people in the Employment and Support Allowance Work Related Activity Group (WRAG). Disabled People in the WRAG have been found unfit for work by the independent Work Capability Assessment.

This cut in support of around £30 a week to new claimants would impact nearly half a million people in the WRAG.

We think that this cut will push disabled people further away from the jobs market and make their lives harder.

We know that disabled people take longer to get back into work than non-disabled people as they face a number of barriers finding and staying in work. Therefore, we are concerned that this reduction will mean disabled people on ESA WRAG will have a very low income for a long period of time.

Disabled people also have fewer savings than non-disabled people (an average of £108,000 fewer savings and assets) so we are worried that this change will have a significant impact on their financial wellbeing.

Progress towards halving the disability employment gap

Taking forward Scope’s campaign recommendation, the Government has made a welcome commitment to halve the disability employment gap.

Currently the employment rate for disabled people is 47.6%. The gap between disabled people’s employment rate and the rest of the population has remained static at 30% for over decade.
Despite the Government’s ambition, the gap has actually now risen since this time last year.

The Welfare Reform and Work Bill requires the Government to report on the progress it makes towards achieving its aim of Full Employment. However, this can’t be achieved without halving the disability employment gap, so we would also like the Government to report each year on the progress towards meeting it. This will ensure that this important target remains on the public and political agenda.

We hope that in today’s debate we will also hear more details on the announcements in the Spending Review last week on the future of specialist employment support. Specialist employment support enables many disabled people to overcome the barriers they face and move into work and progress in their careers.

This film shows the importance of specialist employment support and how Scope’s employment service in Worthing has supported one young person into work.

You can follow today’s debate via Scope’s Twitter and also the Parliament Live website.

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