Open letter to Government on second chance to stop ESA cuts

17th November 2016

Ahead of today’s debate in the House of Commons on cuts to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit, over 70 members of the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) have signed an open letter (below) to the Government, warning of the devastating effects the cuts would have on people with a disability and urging MPs to take this debate as an opportunity to re-assess the cuts.

“Dear Secretary of State for Work and Pensions,

“With today’s debate MPs have been given a rare second chance to speak out against £30 a week being taken away from sick and disabled people. The £30-a-week cut to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit has caused deep unease amongst MPs from all parties. We believe this cut will undermine the Government’s welcome commitment to halve the disability employment gap set out in the Green Paper published just last month.

“The Government recently committed to protecting disabled people’s benefits from further cuts, but have decided to continue with this damaging cut to new claimants in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG) of ESA and within Universal Credit (UC). From April 2017 this cut will affect many people found currently ‘unfit for work’ but will also affect many disabled people in work and on low wages under UC.

“The Government promised further support would be given to disabled people in the WRAG to find work, however the recent Green Paper offers little detail as to where this would come from or how it will mitigate the effects of the cut.

“Almost 70% of sick and disabled people we surveyed say this cut would cause their health to suffer and just under half said they would probably not be able to return to work as quickly. We urge MPs from all parties to act – at a time when 1 in 3 households with a disabled member are living in poverty – and halt this cut immediately.”


  1. Action for Blind People
  2. Action Duchenne
  3. Action for M.E.
  4. Action on Hearing Loss
  5. Advice UK
  6. Advocard
  7. Age UK
  8. Ambitious about Autism
  9. Arthritis Care
  10. Arthritis Research UK
  11. Aspire
  12. British Lung Foundation
  13. Capability Scotland
  14. Carers UK
  15. Child Poverty Action Group
  16. CLIC Sargent
  17. Contact a Family
  18. Council for Disabled Children
  19. Crohn’s and Colitis UK
  20. Cystic Fibrosis Trust
  21. Deafblind UK
  22. Dimensions UK
  23. Disability Agenda Scotland
  24. Disability Rights UK
  25. Down’s Syndrome Association
  26. ENABLE Scotland
  27. Epilepsy Society
  28. Epilepsy Action
  29. Equalities National Council
  30. Guide Dogs
  31. Haemophilia Society
  32. Hafal
  33. Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE)
  34. Inclusion London
  35. LASA
  36. Leonard Cheshire Disability
  37. Livability
  38. Mind
  39. Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association
  40. MS Society
  41. Muscular Dystrophy UK
  42. Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) Trust
  43. Myeloma UK
  44. National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society
  45. National AIDS Trust
  46. National Autistic Society (NAS)
  47. National Children’s Bureau
  48. National Deaf Children’s Society
  49. National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society
  50. Niamh
  51. Papworth Trust
  52. Parkinson’s UK
  53. Rethink Mental Illness
  54. Royal British Legion
  55. Royal College of Psychiatrists
  56. Royal Mencap Society
  57. Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)
  58. RSI Action
  59. Scope
  60. Scottish Association for Mental Health
  61. Spina bifida Hydrocephalus Information Networking Equality (SHINE)
  62. Sense
  63. Sense Scotland
  64. St Joseph’s Hospice
  65. The Stroke Association
  66. Sue Ryder
  67. Terrence Higgins Trust
  68. Thomas Pocklington Trust
  69. Together For Short Lives
  70. Transport for All
  71. TUC
  72. Vitalise
  73. Zacchaeus 2000 Trust

About the letter

The cuts to the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG) of ESA and the equivalent in Universal Credit will undermine the Government’s commitment to halving the disability employment gap, which was outlined in the recent Green Paper on Work and Health.

The Government has however suggested that people with disabilities and long-term health conditions who get this benefit are not being incentivised to find work because of the £30-a-week more they get compared to those on Job Seeker’s Allowance.

However, the DBC strongly disputes this claim and a survey of over 500 disabled people found this to be completely false:

  • Almost 7 in 10 (69%) say cuts to ESA will cause their health to suffer
  • More than a quarter (28%) say they sometimes can’t afford to eat on the current amount they receive from ESA
  • Almost half (45%) of respondents say that the cut would probably mean they would return to work later
  • Just 1% said the cut would motivate them to get a job sooner

Disabled campaigners were in Parliament on yesterday meeting their MPs to raise concerns. Pictures of this can be found on twitter under #esacuts as will commentary on today’s debate.


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