I am writing as a Liberal Democrat member to ask you to vote against the Government’s proposal to impose a one year time limit for contributory ESA for people in the Work Related Activity Group when it comes up in the House, currently planned for Wednesday of this week.Have you done yours, yet?
I believe that this is wrong for a number of reasons. I spoke at a fringe meeting on this issue, run by RNIB Scotland, at Scottish Conference last November. Their incoming chair, Ken Reed, asked us to imagine being blinded in an accident tomorrow. He said it would take a year to get used just to being blind, let alone having to compete in an ever more difficult labour market. Four years as an MP’s caseworker convinces me that there are many people, with quite serious conditions who are not well enough to work, who have been put into WRAG, despite the Harrington reviews.
I personally know a number of people who have worked for their whole lives, only to fall ill in their 50s. They stand to lose £400 a month which they can’t afford to lose. Had they been on benefits when they fell ill they would still qualify for income related ESA. This does not fit in with the Government’s stated aim that work should always pay.
The income limit for income related ESA is not very high – well below average earnings. Being ill can be costly – for example, if you can’t move around much, you’ll need to keep your house warmer. If you need regular hospital treatment, transport costs can quickly mount up.
Liberal Democrat conference has made its position on this issue quite clear. Last September a motion was passed overwhelmingly which called on Liberal Democrats in Government to oppose arbitrary time limits for contributory ESA.
I hope that you will agree that the above factors make a compelling case for voting against the proposed time limit.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
If you want to know why, read my post at Diary of a Benefit Scrounger and you can use the list of e-mails that some helpful soul has put in the comments. It literally couldn't be simpler and it could make the difference.