Diary of a Benefit Scrounger has picked up my post from the other day about writing to Lib Dem peers ahead of the vote on time limiting contributory Employment and Support Allowance in the House of Lords, scheduled for this coming Wednesday. What's really useful is that a lovely and beautiful person has, in the comments to that, put in a list of peers' e-mail addresses, ready to cut and paste.
We know that this can be effective - the votes on the Welfare Reform Bill have been very tight, and changing the minds of even a couple of them could make the difference.
There are two main reasons why I feel they should change their minds:
Firstly, entitlement should be on need, not an arbitrary time limit. The threshold at which you are no longer entitled to income related ESA is very small and well below average income. To take nearly £400 a month away from people who are sick is simply not on. Remember what Ken Reed, chair of RNIB Scotland, said last year at our Scottish Conference. If you were blinded by an accident today, it would take you a whole year to get used to that, let alone thinking about finding a job.
Secondly, Liberal Democrat Conference has made it clear that it wants Liberal Democrats to oppose arbitrary time limits.
Mike German, our leading peer on this issue wrote an article on Liberal Democrat Voice the other day which didn't tackle this issue at all, nor has he come back and attempted to justify it. Maybe because that's simply not possible. If you read the comments on that piece, you'll see one man describe how his wife, who had a stroke 3 years ago, has been put into the Work Related Activity Group against opinion of every professional who works with her. They will lose £400 a month from April. He makes the point that had she been on benefits prior to her stroke, she would still be entitled to ESA, so their income must be really low for her to lose it now. So much for this Government's aim of making work pay.
We have very little time left to make a difference. Write to those Lords now.