Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:38 pm on 17th November 2016.

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Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford 12:38 pm, 17th November 2016

I am not clear on the figures, but what I do know is that the Government are committed to providing support to people to get into work. That is absolutely vital, but I do not think it is a substitute for the additional financial help that has been given until now.

I welcome the Green Paper and the Government’s work on it. I welcome the work that my hon. Friend Justin Tomlinson did on it, and the work of my hon. Friend the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, who is in her place, and everyone else at the Department for Work and Pensions. The excellent paper covers joint supporting, the promotion of mental and physical health, and occupational health support. I want all those things to be put in place, because I know that they will be of great benefit to many of my constituents. The Green Paper does not, however, cover the question of costs, and that is why I support the motion.

I want to make some constructive proposals for the Government to consider. I want them to consider modifying or postponing the changes while the proposals are consulted on and put into practice. Let us see them work: let us see people get into work more quickly before we actually remove the additional support. Let us also consider maintaining an element of support above JSA, specifically to cover the particular costs that people face, especially if they have been on the standard rate of ESA, as they will have been for a short period. It should not be indeterminate and indefinite. A discretionary fund has been used in other areas, so let us consider introducing one that is substantial enough to cover those additional costs for people in the WRAG.

I know that the Minister is listening. She has shown that in her responses to me both privately and publicly. I urge her to continue to listen, particularly to the points made by Members in this debate.