Clause 51 — Period of entitlement to contributory allowance

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 1:00 pm on 1st February 2012.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 1:00 pm, 1st February 2012

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Ministers say that there is no need to worry because means-tested ESA will still be there, but if a partner is earning £7,500 a year, no means-tested support will be provided at all.

In the other place, Baroness Hayter quoted a letter from a 59-year-old man currently on contributory ESA who has worked and paid into the system since he was 15—that is, for 44 years. Now, when his health is failing, he will be left on the poverty line. He draws the obvious conclusion—this picks up on the point that my right hon. Friend Mr Field made earlier—saying:

“It would be better if my wife stopped working then perhaps I could claim income-related ESA—just like any person who has never worked”.

That is the position that this change is putting people in. The Government say they want to reward work; with this measure, they are scrapping the reward for work.