Deafblind people say, cutting benefits will push them further from work

The Welfare Reform and Work Bill is making its way through the parliament.  The bill introduces some significant changes, which will have an impact on disabled people, including a benefits rates freeze, lowering the benefits cap and a cut for people who are on the Work Related Activity Group of the Employment and Support Allowance.   The Government believes this cut will encourage disabled people to look for work.

People placed on the WRAG are found by an independent healthcare professional to be not fit enough to work.  They are required to undertake activities that would help them prepare for work.  Currently people on the WRAG get around £100 a week and the Government is proposing to cut this by £30 so that they get the same amount of money as non-disabled job seekers.

The policy does not recognise the additional barriers disabled people face when looking for work and there is evidence that it will make it harder for disabled people to find work.

This is why more than 100 disabled people came to Parliament  this week to tell their MPs what they thought about the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.  Among them were deafblind activists.  Here are some things they have spoken to their MPs about:

“Instead of penalising us by cutting our benefits the government should ensure there is good support for us to find work. When I was on the Work Related Mass Lobby

Activity Group of ESA I went to Jobcentre Plus and was told that there was nothing for me.  Their training was inaccessible. Many of us need to learn new skills.  We need support in getting to grips with all the technology, which allows us to access information.”

“I’ve been trying to find work for a long time, I would love to work, but what is the chance of an employer offering a job to me – a deafblind person – when they have many non-disabled candidates to choose from.  The government should realise we face so many barriers.  Employers need to know that we can do the job and not be scared of employing us. We do all want to work because to get back to work would gives us confidence and sense of achievement.

With less money disabled people will just concentrate on surviving, making ends meet.  It won’t do anything to help us into work”.  Varan

“Instead of cutting our benefits the government should ensure young disabled people get qualifications, which will enable them to find work.  In the past, many disabled people were written off, some went to rehabilitation centres and ended up not having the education and skills you need to get a job.

It is also really important to educate people about disability from a very early age, so that we create a culture where disabled people are valued.”  IanMass Lobby

“I’ve been applying for many jobs, including the most simplest jobs at the low end of the scale without so much as a response.  I’m not surprised, however, and I do think job searching is in vain.  It’s the proverbial needle haystack situation and so in lieu of that we all need support just to have the most life’s basics – food, shelter and warmth.  To cut £30 a week is frightening, especially when so much money is being spent by the government elsewhere.

The government has a moral duty to “look after” disabled people rather than making their lives even harder to endure.  Policies like this make us feel unwanted and worthless.   I’m certain if the general public were more aware of these cuts they would be abhorred”.   Gary

What do you think about this policy?  If you are concerned about the impact it may have on you or other disabled people make sure to tell your MP. They need to know the real impact this policy will have.

Watch a video report from the lobby

Svetlana Kotova

Author: Svetlana Kotova

Policy Advisor (Welfare Benefits & Employment) for Sense Public Policy

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