We must have a social security system that is efficient, fair and compassionate. Many people with disabilities and their families are rightly concerned about the possibility of changes to the eligibility criteria for Personal Independence Payments (PIP). This support is vital in helping meet the additional costs that having a disability or long-term illness can bring, such as purchasing equipment, services and support, and in enabling disabled people to live independently.
Just two years after PIP was introduced, in December 2015 the Government announced a consultation regarding aids and appliances and the daily living component of PIP. The Royal National Institute for Blind people (RNIB) is concerned that if any one of the five proposals contained in the consultation is implemented many people will see a partial or full reduction in the support they receive.
The consultation closed on January 29 and the Government will respond and set out their plans following this. I hope that the Government will listen to the concerns that have been raised by disabled people, disability groups and in Parliament about the impact of reducing disabled people’s eligibility for PIP.
I am also concerned about the proposed cuts to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) contained in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, which would see the level of support for new claimants in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) cut by around £30 a week from April 2017.
I oppose this unfair and unjust measure, as it will hurt vulnerable people who through no fault of their own are suffering from serious illnesses and are in and out of work intermittently. I voted against the Bill in its entirety at Report Stage and Third Reading and again on Tuesday.
The Government’s welfare reforms must help and not hinder disabled people. The Government is reneging on its own manifesto commitment to protect social security for people with disabilities.