Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:23 pm on 17th November 2016.

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Photo of George Kerevan George Kerevan Scottish National Party, East Lothian 2:23 pm, 17th November 2016

I am happy to accept that optimistic approach. The hon. Gentleman will possibly have more influence on the Government than I will, and the sooner that happens, the better. In the spirit of this debate, I am trying to be as reasonable as possible in giving the Minister information to take back to the Government.

The most frightening statistic that I have read in recent months relates to the rise in the number of people with disabilities in the adult workforce. The figure is something like 400,000 since 2013, so this is not a diminishing issue; it is a social problem that is rising. I suspect that an awful lot, if not the majority, of those citizens with disabilities are suffering from mental health issues. That is precisely the group that comes in and out of employment. It is the strategic group for which we have to craft a benefits system that will help them through the process and give them the support and encouragement they need to get back into work permanently. This is not just another component of the welfare system; it is a key component for dealing with a growing problem, so again we have to ask the Government to look at the issue and not just to make short-term changes. They need to get the Green Paper through and find a permanent solution.