Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:09 pm on 17th November 2016.

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Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Fair Work and Employment) 12:09 pm, 17th November 2016

I beg to move,

That this House
notes the Government’s plans to reduce the Employment and Support Allowance work-related activity component and the corresponding limited capability for work component in universal credit in April 2017;
further notes that this measure will cut the weekly amount received by recipients with long-term health conditions or disabilities by £30 and that these cuts are due to take place before the promised Work and Health programme Green Paper can be considered or implemented;
and therefore calls on the Government to use the upcoming Autumn Statement to postpone the cuts to Employment and Support Allowance work-related activity component and the corresponding limited capability for work component in universal credit until appropriate alternative measures to progress the commitment to halve the disability employment gap have been considered, in order to secure support for current and future claimants so that sick and disabled people are supported adequately when they are unable to work.

I thank the Backbench Business Committee for accepting my application for this urgent debate today. It was brought to the Committee at short notice and with my added time pressures ahead of the autumn statement, so I am grateful to the Committee. I am grateful also to the MPs from nine parties in this Parliament who supported the motion.

From April 2017, new employment support allowance claimants who are placed in the work-related activity group will receive £29.05 less than do current ESA WRAG claimants. The Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 legislated for this cut, and the Government promised

“new funding for additional support to help claimants return to work.”—[Official Report, 8 July 2015;
Vol. 598, c. 333.]

This afternoon, I intend to set out why the Government should use the opportunity of the autumn statement, a new Prime Minister, a new Chancellor and a new set of Department for Work and Pensions Ministers to pause the cuts to ESA WRAG and the corresponding universal credit work allowance elements, at least until the new system that they are to propose has been scrutinised and implemented.