Welfare Reform and Work Bill: what happened and what’s next?


Scope's Blog

For the last seven months we have been working to influence the Welfare Reform and Work Bill since it was announced in the Queen’s Speech.

This week, the process of debating the Bill in both Houses of Parliament finished, and it will shortly receive Royal Assent. What will the finished Bill mean for disabled people and their families?

The Bill aims to achieve the Government’s manifesto commitment of ‘full employment‘.

As part of their plans to do so, the Government committed to halving the disability employment gap, following on from a Scope campaign.

Scope focused on ensuring that measures within this Bill supported more disabled people to find, stay and progress in work.

As the Bill went through Parliament, two key areas of focus were:

  • Calling on the Government to include a requirement in the Bill to report annually on the progress it makes towards halving the…

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Replace ESA With Basic Income Plus | Dr Simon Duffy


The previous Government launched an all out attack on disabled people’s income and support. They were the number one target for unjustified cuts. This has led to growing poverty and deaths for sick, d

Source: Replace ESA With Basic Income Plus | Dr Simon Duffy

Disabled peers inflict heavy defeat as government loses its WRAG cuts | DisabledGo News and Blog


The government has suffered a crushing defeat in the House of Lords over its plans to cut future support for hundreds of thousands of disabled people found “not fit for work”, thanks to an amendment proposed by a disabled peer. Lord Low’s amendment – to remove the proposed cuts from the welfare reform and work bill – was passed by 283 to 198 votes during the bill’s report stage last night (27 January). Although the government is likely to reintroduce the measure when the bill returns to the House of Commons, the vote is likely to be seen as a fresh blow to the credibility of work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith. His proposals would see new claimants of employment and support allowance (ESA) who are placed in the work-related activity group (WRAG) see their weekly payments drop by nearly £30 a week from April 2017. Another proposal – also thrown out following an amendment moved by Lord Low – would introduce similar cuts for those placed in the equivalent group of the new

Source: Disabled peers inflict heavy defeat as government loses its WRAG cuts | DisabledGo News and Blog

Disabled People To ‘Lobby Parliament’ Over ‘Unacceptable’ Welfare Cuts | Welfare Weekly


Campaigners say benefit cuts proposed in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill could be detrimental to the health and well-being of people with disabilities.

Source: Disabled People To ‘Lobby Parliament’ Over ‘Unacceptable’ Welfare Cuts | Welfare Weekly

Duncan Smith snubs equality watchdog over welfare bill impact assessments


Original post from Disabled Go News

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Iain Duncan Smith

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith dismissed an offer from the equality watchdog to help MPs and peers understand the true impact on disabled people and other groups of his new welfare bill.

Letters between the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and Duncan Smith were published this week on the commission’s website, following a freedom of information request.

They show that Duncan Smith snubbed an offer from the commission to “work more closely” on the equality impact assessments his department had already published alongside his welfare reform and work bill.

In her letter, sent in September, Rebecca Hilsenrath, EHRC’s interim chief executive, had asked Duncan Smith “what your thoughts are on ensuring that the impact assessments are sufficient to address these issues and support the proper scrutiny of the bill”.

In his response last month, Duncan Smith ignored her offer of assistance and told her that the impact assessments already use “the most robust analysis available to give a good assessment of both the rationale for and the impacts of the reforms” in the bill.

In a briefing on its website, EHRC says it is concerned that parts of the welfare reform and work bill “could exacerbate, rather than reduce, existing inequalities”.

It says it is concerned that the impact assessments and human rights memorandum which accompany the bill “do not fully assess the effect of the bill on equality and human rights”, which “may make it difficult for parliamentarians to properly consider the implications of the measures in the bill”.

The watchdog also says the government should review welfare reform measures in the bill – including the proposed reduction of the benefit cap, the freeze on many benefit rates, and the WRAG cut – so it can assess how they comply with the government’s international human rights obligations, including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

An EHRC spokesman said: “We continue to raise our concerns and make representations on this issue.

“Our latest position is set-out in the briefing we provided to parliamentarians this week.

“For example, at Commons report stage we urged MPs to support an amendment which would have prevented implementation of the bill until an assessment of the cumulative impact and impact on equality of reforms to tax credits and benefits announced in the 2015 summer budget is presented to both Houses of Parliament.

“This makes clear that the commission is concerned that the impact assessments and human rights memorandum which accompany the bill do not fully assess the effect of the bill on equality and human rights.”

The letters were published as the bill began its progress through the House of Lords, with one Tory peer saying she was appalled by the wording of the government’s impact assessment of its proposed cut of £29 a week for future claimants placed in the work-related activity group (WRAG) of employment and support allowance.

The assessment says the cut would “remove the financial incentives that could otherwise discourage claimants from taking steps back to work”.

Baroness Browning, who has a son with autism, told the welfare reform minister Lord Freud: “I am disgusted with those words.”

Despite her comments, Lord Freud spoke in the debate of the “perverse incentives” of paying disabled people in the WRAG more than people on the mainstream jobseeker’s allowance.

The disabled peers Lord [Colin] Low and Baroness [Tanni] Grey-Thompson, along with their fellow crossbench peer Baroness Meacher, are heading a parliamentary review into how the proposed WRAG cut might affect disabled people.

Lord Low dismissed the bill as “another round of ideologically-driven cuts to welfare”, and told fellow peers that the government’s target of cutting another £12 billion from benefits spending “cannot but have a devastating impact on poor people who depend on benefits”.

Baroness Grey-Thompson suggested that the WRAG cut could move disabled people further from the workplace, by creating an incentive for them to be placed in the ESA support group, where there would be limited employment support available to them.

She added: “I struggle to see how cutting support could incentivise disabled people into work, and I am looking forward to the DWP’s convincing arguments in this area.”

In response to criticisms of the WRAG cut, Lord Freud quoted a 10-year-old report by the OECD which said that “financial incentives to work can be improved by either cutting welfare benefit levels, or introducing in-work benefits while leaving benefit levels unchanged”, although it was not clear whether this referred to disabled benefit claimants.

He added: “This change, combined with the new funding [the government plans to spend an extra £100 million a year of the £640 million savings from the WRAG cut on improving employment support for disabled people]is about providing the right incentives and support to encourage more people to move closer to the labour market.”

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Aden

Hi I’m Aden, I work at DisabledGo as the Digital Marketing Manager and I manage the blog and all social media channels.

More posts from author   …………’

MPs fail in bid to defeat government’s WRAG cut


Original post from Disabled Go News

cuts

Opposition MPs have failed in their latest attempt to defeat government plans to cut out-of-work disability benefits.

The government is using its welfare reform and work bill to reduce support for new claimants placed in the work-related activity group (WRAG) of employment and support allowance (ESA) by nearly £30 a week from April 2017.

But Labour and SNP attempts to introduce a string of changes to the bill, including scrapping the WRAG cut, were defeated by Conservative MPs.

Their failed attempt came after members of the House of Lords succeeded in delaying government plans to cut tax credits.

Among the changes suggested by Labour and SNP MPs was a measure that would have forced the government to ensure an independent review of the benefits sanctions regime.

Debbie Abrahams, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, speaking in the main chamber for the first time in that role, said the welfare reform and work bill was “wicked” and the proposed cut to WRAG payments was “a disgrace”.

And she questioned why the government had not yet carried out a cumulative impact assessment of the changes in the bill on disabled people, as it should have done under the Equality Act.

She said: “There is no analysis of the impact that this will have on the disabled people who will be pushed into poverty.

“Half a million disabled people will be affected and lose £30 a week – nearly a third of their weekly income.”

Abrahams pointed to the government’s refusal to publish 49 internal reviews of benefit-related deaths – whose existence was first revealed by Disability News Service – and said the government’s failure to order an independent review of its sanctions regime was “a slap in the face of everyone affected by sanctions, including family members of those who have died”.

And she said it had been estimated that further planned reductions in the benefit cap “risk pushing tens of thousands of children, families and disabled people into poverty”.

She said: “We are the sixth wealthiest country in the world. It is not right that the government are seeking to secure the recovery on the backs of the working poor, their children and disabled people.”

Natalie McGarry, the SNP’s shadow disability spokeswoman, said: “We already know that the UK government’s austerity programme is impacting disproportionately on those living with disabilities and sicknesses and that it impairs their ability to work.

“We also know that there is absolutely no evidence that these policies of cuts will have a positive impact on moving those in the WRAG group into work.

“There is no evidence from the government, despite repeated requests for it to be produced.

“It is therefore absolutely shameful that, without any evidence, the Conservatives should have disabled people in their sights yet again, promising to cut nearly a third of ESA support for new claimants in the work-related activity group.”

But Priti Patel, the employment minister, said: “In 2008, when the then Labour government introduced ESA as a ‘radical reform package’, the work-related activity component was originally intended to act as an incentive to help people into work and to return quickly to work.

“However, the original estimates were incorrect and only one per cent of people in the work-related activity group left the benefit each month.

“It is clear, therefore, that the existing policy is not working and that it is failing claimants.”

She said that £100 million a year (by 2020) of the £640 million annual savings from the WRAG cut would be spent on helping “claimants with limited work capability but who have potential, because they want to move into work, to get closer to the labour market”.

Patel said the government kept the operation of its sanctions regime “under constant review”.

Opposition attempts to amend the bill, including the withdrawal of the WRAG cut, were defeated, and the bill was passed at both the report stage and third reading, and will now be debated by the House of Lords.

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Aden

Hi I’m Aden, I work at DisabledGo as the Digital Marketing Manager and I manage the blog and all social media channels.

More posts from author    ………….’